Alfred Wolmark was born on 17 February 1877 in Warsaw, Poland. He later moved to England with his family to escape anti-semitic persecution, settling in London. He showed an early talent for art and pursued his artistic education at the Royal Academy Schools in London. He won a silver medal for drawing in 1897. and mounted his first solo exhibition at Bruton Galleries in 1905. Wolmark soon built up a following in group shows at the RA, 1901–36; AAA, 1908–16; IS, 1911–25; and caught the eye of the art critic Roger Fry. In 1910–11 Fry included Wolmark in the first Post-Impressionist exhibition in London.
In the early stages of his career, Wolmark gained recognition as a painter and was associated with the New English Art Club, a group of artists who aimed to challenge the academic conventions of the time. His paintings often depicted subjects such as landscapes, portraits, and genre scenes. He experimented with various styles, ranging from Impressionism to Post-Impressionism. His design jobs included two Diaghilev ballets in 1911, theatre Posters and graphics and decorative pottery for an exhibition in 1916 at Martyn’s Gallery.
Wolmark’s work evolved over the years, and he became known for his unique blend of symbolism and decorative aesthetics. He explored themes of spirituality, mythology, and biblical narratives, infusing his paintings with a sense of mysticism and poetic symbolism. His use of vibrant colours and intricate compositions added to the allure of his works.
Aside from his success as a painter, Wolmark also made significant contributions to the field of stained glass art. He collaborated with prominent architects of his time and designed stained glass windows for various buildings, including churches and synagogues. Among his most notable commissions was creating stained glass windows for St Mary’s Church, Slough, in 1915. His stained glass creations were admired for their skilful craftsmanship, intricate detailing, and harmonious integration with architectural spaces.
Wolmark was closely associated with the 20th-century master Henri Gaudier-Brzeska who often worked in Wolmark’s studio. The art dealer Anthony d’Offay wrote: “Gaudier’s bust (of Wolmark) announces the fierce pride, an independence equal to his own, and in the intensity of his expression, a quality of great dignity.” Rediscovering Wolmark: a pioneer of British Modernism was held at the Ben Uri Gallery in 2004. His work is held in collections including Tate Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, and many provincial galleries. Wolmark’s died on 6 April 1961. His contributions to art and his innovative painting and stained glass continues to be appreciated and admired. The Ben Uri Gallery held its memorial show in 1961.
Photos Courtesy Sotheby’s
Alfred Aaron Wolmark ( 1877 – 1961) Painting of a Woman signed with monogram (lower left) oil on canvas 139 by 82cm.; 54¾ by 32¼in. Executed circa 1915-1920