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Mark Gertler (1891-1939)
Mark Gertler (1891-1939)

Head of Dora Carrington

Mark Gertler (1891-1939) Head of Dora Carrington signed and dated 'M Gertler/1913' (lower right) and inscribed 'Head of a Girl' (lower centre, under the mount) pencil 9 ½ x 8 ¼ in. (24.1 x 20.9 cm.)
with Leicester Galleries, London.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 12 November 1982, lot 84, as 'Head of a Girl'.
S. MacDougall, Mark Gertler, London, 2002, pl. 18.
S. MacDougall, exhibition catalogue, Mark Gertler: Works 1912-28: A Tremendous Show of Vitality, London, Piano Nobile, 2012, pp. 18, 19, no. 4, illustrated.
D. Boyd Haycock, exhibition catalogue, Nash Nevinson Spencer Gertler Carrington Bomberg A Crisis of Brilliance, 1908-1922, London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2013, p. 61, no. 7, illustrated.
London, Barbican Art Gallery, The Art of Dora Carrington, September - December 1995, no. 159.
London, Piano Nobile, Mark Gertler: Works 1912-28: A Tremendous Show of Vitality, October - November 2012, no. 4.
London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Nash Nevinson Spencer Gertler Carrington Bomberg A Crisis of Brilliance, 1908-1922, June - September 2013, no. 7.

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Lot Essay

Following his earlier Florentine oil and tempera portrait, the early Italians undoubtedly remained the inspiration for Gertler’s beautiful portrait head of Carrington, executed in 1913. In a letter to her the previous July, Gertler had expressed his admiration for the ‘joys’ of the National Gallery, naming Michelangelo, Botticelli and Piero della Francesca; and with her half-veiled lids and carefully modelled lips, Carrington, like The Violinist, particularly recalls the work of the latter, especially perhaps the face of his fresco of the Madonna del Parto in Monterchi. Pencil allowed Gertler a freedom not possible in tempera. Soft shading evokes Carrington’s distinctive bob enclosing her head in a closely-fitting helmet of hair; while a few simple strokes conjure up both her likeness and her vivacious character. Moreover, the study also exudes a sensuality that demonstrates the spell she would cast not only over Gertler but also over so many of his contemporaries. Nevertheless, the study is already less detailed than that of The Violinist, as Gertler also begins to show a simplification of form which demonstrates his move towards the more experimental work in the remainder of the decade.

We are very grateful to Sarah MacDougall for preparing this catalogue entry and also to Luke Gertler for his assistance with researching this work.

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