Bomberg was considered one of the most important painters of his generation at the Slade. As an artist and teacher he was determined to bring about a renewal in British painting. The influence of his teachings can be seen in the work of Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach who both found his evening classes at the Borough Polytechnic an important early stimulus in their work.
Between 1929 and 1938 Bomberg painted a series of intimate and powerful portraits of Lilian which are notable for their use of vigorous brushstrokes. William Lipke writes of how Bomberg 'moved from the external to the internal point of view when presenting his figures ... intuitively presenting the personality beneath the cloak of paint, he has managed to create what he labelled the 'essence of the life' of his sitter ... Bomberg's portraits of the 1930s, especially those studies of Lilian represent one of the finest acheivements in British portraiture of the twentieth century' (see W. Lipke, David Bomberg, A Critical Study, London, 1967, pp. 70-72).
In talking about another sitting of this period, Lilian described how she responded to the challenge of posing for Bomberg, 'You must give out your whole being ... I was giving my whole soul to him' (see R. Cork, David Bomberg, London, 1987, p. 193).