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The Artist’s Wife and Baby, 1937

David Bomberg

Oil paint on canvas | 76.6 x 56.2 cm
Tate: Presented by Dinora Davies-Rees, the artist's step-daughter, and her daughter Juliet Lamont through the Contemporary Art Society 1986 
© Tate, London 2017


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David Bomberg created a highly personal style that is connected in critical terms to cubism and futurism. His work as a teacher had a profound influence on the artistic development of some of his pupils, such Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. 


Bomberg encouraged his pupils to work directly from life, and to represent what he called the “spirit of the mass”, or the physical sense of form that only the eye is able to capture. He considered it very important to define the experience through the material, so that all the viewer’s senses are involved.


This picture was painted after he returned from Spain, where he travelled extensively and which he knew well, travelling frequently to the magical town of Ronda, not far from this city of Málaga. The picture shows Lilian Holt, a painter who later became his wife, holding their daughter, Diana. The two figures are painted in impasto, with blocks of colour. The female figure is wearing dark clothing with a flash of bright red, and behind her head there is a suggestion of a light source, which reveals the artist’s attentive study of the history of painting.