Gluck; A Fascinating Artist No Longer Forgotten

This week saw the opening of an exhibition at the Fine Art Society, devoted to three women artists, one of them Gluck.

I went especially to see Gluck’s paintings which I have long admired – indeed we once had one in the family and to my eternal regret it was sold.   She was an extraordinary woman, with a wondrously classical profile belied by her tiny figure – she was only 5’2” tall, dressed elegantly like a man, and when I visited her studio was living with her partner Edith Head.   Edith was no taller than Gluck, with hazel curls, and a sweetness of manner that indicated, on brief acquaintance, a softer and perhaps less demanding  personality.

Gluck; Lilies, c. 1932-6

Gluck’s landscapes were challenging and I have always thought most successful,  her still lives concise and jewel brilliant.   The large Arum Lilies was painted for a client of Syrie Maugham and framed in a design of Gluck’s own which she took the rouble to patent, perhaps an interesting comment on her attitude to her art and her possessive attitude to it.    All the Glucks in the Exhibition are in private collections, with a waiting list of buyers should any come onto the market.   Ours was not there, sold some years ago for £3,000 at Christies.   It was originally purchased at the Gluck Exhibition in the thirties by horologist Courtenay Ilbert, the  only modern art work he ever bought, and like all the other owners he was devoted to it.   When he died Gluck rang up to ask if she could have it back!

Gluck’s world was the circle of Syrie Maugham, Oliver Hill and so many other luminaries of the thirties for whom she painted and with whom she collaborated.

WW2 caused a dramatic slippage in art and fashion and her achievements, like those  of her contemporaries, seem to have been quite overlooked in the rage for French and American painters.   Further, the break-up of so many English Mansions and their collections put a treasury of popular 18th century works on the market which became closely linked to the English Style and the ubiquitous Colefax and Fowler influence.   Thus the elegant designs of the artists and designers of the inter war era sank out of fashion, but as in all matters of design, only temporarily

I was delighted to see this incredibly talented woman’s work revived and re-assessed, even though this higher profile will make her paintings even more difficult to obtain.

http://thefineartsociety.com/exhibitions/131/overview/ 

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