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Jewish Artists and the First World War

Ben Uri Art Gallery and Museum

In this collection are two essays and eight profiles of Jewish artists from the First World War period, written and curated by the Ben Uri Art Gallery and Museum.

In the essays you will find an introduction to all the Jewish artists of the period who were influential to British Art and an examination of the important role the Whitechapel Art gallery played in the lives of these men and one woman. You will see examples of their art and hear how the First World War impacted on the artists and their depictions of scenes that they experienced.

The artists profiled here are David Bomberg, Jacob Eptstein, Mark Gertler, Jacob Kramer, Bernard Meninsky, Isaac Rosenberg, Clare Winsten and Alfred A Wolmark.

Artist Profiles

Sappers Under Hill by Bomberg, David. 1919.  © Ben Uri

David Bomberg (1890 – 1957)  Although English born (1890 in Birmingham), Bomberg was part of the large Jewish immigrant community in London’s East End, his Polish family having moved to London to build a better life.          


Kathleen by Epstein, Jacob. Wikimedia_Commons

Jacob Epstein (1880 - 1959) Jacob Epstein, the best-known sculptor associated with the Whitechapel Boys, was born in America in 1880, the son of Russian-Polish immigrants, and was therefore a slightly older member of the group 



Rabbi and Rabbitzin by Gertler, Mark. 1914.  ©Ben Uri

Mark Gertler (1891 - 1939) He was born in a slum lodging house in Spitalfields (London) in 1891. Mark was the fifth and youngest child of Austrian-Jewish immigrant parents ‘trying their luck’ in London. London turned out worse rather than better than home and a year later the family returned to Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which is now part of Ukraine 


The Day of the Atonement by Kramer Jacob. 1919.  ©Ben Uri

Jacob Kramer (1892 – 1962) Jacob Kramer was born in Ukraine in 1892, and his family emigrated to England when he was about eight years old in 1900. They settled in Leeds where he went to school and later attended evening art classes. 


Two Women and Child by Meninsky, Bernard. 1913.  ©Ben UriBernard Meninsky (1891 – 1950) Bernard Meninsky was born in Ukraine in 1891, and his Jewish parents brought him to England when only six weeks old. The family settled in Liverpool, where he developed an interest in art at an early age.  



Portrait of Sonia by Rosenberg, Isaac. 1915. ©Ben UriIsaac Rosenberg (1890 – 1918) Isaac Rosenberg was born in Bristol in 1890 from Anna and Barnett, Lithuanian immigrants. The family moved to London looking for more assured work in 1897 and lived in great poverty. Determined to follow his passion he enrolled at evening art classes at Birkbeck College where he won many prizes before following David Bomberg to the Slade in 1911.  



Attack by Winsten, Clare. 1910. ©Ben UriClare Winsten (1892 - 1984) Clare Winsten (formerly Clara Weinstein, nee Clara Birnberg) was born in 1892 in Romania. Her parents spent a decade there after fleeing pogroms (a mass indiscriminate attack on a community, in this case against Jews) in their home city of Tarnopil, Galicia. The family moved to London in 1902 when Birnbaum was ten years old and settled in the East End. 


Fourteen Illustrations to the works of Israel Zangwill, vol. 13, The Cockpit by Wolwark, Alfred. 1925. © Ben UriAlfred A. Wolmark (1877 – 1961) Aaron Wolmark was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1877. He was brought to England by his parents in 1883 and settled initially in Devon where even at this young age he drew and some drawings from this period still exist. In 1894 the family move to Whitechapel in London’s East End where his father ran a tailoring shop. 






About the collection

Ben Uri Gallery


A specialist art museum in Europe addressing universal and ever-more central issues of identity and migration through the visual arts. Emerging from and representing the Jewish community, it's collection principally reflects the work, lives and contribution of British and European artists of Jewish descent, interpreted within the wider context of twentieth and twenty-first century art history, politics and society.

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London Jews in the First World War - We Were There Too

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