Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery explores the work of Harold Gilman in centenary year

Gilman 49. Tea in the Bedsitter, 1916, oil on canvas, 71 x 92, Kirklees
Gilman 49. Tea in the Bedsitter, 1916, oil on canvas, 71 x 92, Kirklees

Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery is offering the first major exhibition in more than 35 years of work by Harold Gilman (1876-1919).

They present him as a British painter whose increasing engagement with post-impressionism from the continent resulted in a “truly-distinctive portrayal of modern urban life in early 20th century Britain.” The exhibition runs until June 9.

Spokeswoman Sarah Jackson said: “This exhibition focuses on the final decade of the artist’s short life – he died aged just 43 during the influenza pandemic – when he left behind the gritty, sombre formality of the Camden Town Group and his mentor Walter Sickert in favour of the vitality of French post-impressionism with its thickly-applied paint and vivid colours. In the powerfully-realist and yet enigmatic mature work, the influence of Van Gogh and Édouard Vuillard can clearly be seen.

“Gilman’s subject matter and his precise manner of painting were not usual bedfellows. He retained some of the precision of his formal training. He was a student at the Slade School of Art alongside artists such as Wyndham Lewis and Gwen and Augustus John, but was more experimental than it seems at first glance.

“Intimate compositions of urban domestic interiors with heavily-patterned wallpapers and female figures captured the essence of his subjects .

“They also commented on radical social change during and around the First World War, including shifting perceptions around gender and class and urban living standards.

“The exhibition includes over 50 works from both private collections and public collections including Tate and the British Council Collection. It includes several alternative versions and the famous Maple Street interiors which feature Gilman’s charlady, Mrs. Mounter.

“The strong sense of development during the artist’s final years only hints at what might have followed had Gilman not died so young. This exhibition seeks to show that, although his career spanned fewer than 15 years, Gilman can be considered one of the most distinguished British painters of the early 20th century. The exhibition also marks the centenary of the artist’s death.”

The exhibition is curated by James Rawlin and Lara Wardle and tours from Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts. It is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue.

Alongside this exhibition Pallant House Gallery presents Art Quake: Post-Impressionism and British Art. Drawing on the gallery’s collection, this exhibition brings together other British artists who, like Gilman, were inspired by Roger Fry’s landmark exhibition in 1910, which introduced the works of Cézanne.

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