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Paintings by Jacob Kramer

Prints by Jacob Kramer


I have oils,pastels and prints for sale by the famous Leeds artist,Jacob Kramer(1892-1962).This is a private collection which has not been exhibited in museums or art galleries. All are early works from the artist's best period.
These pictures were collected by my father,Dr.John Gordon,who was his friend,and introduced him to many professors and doctors at Leeds University and Leeds Medical School,whose portraits he painted.

As a child I met him when he came round to our house.He was rather a shy and diffident man.He lived very near to us,and had a studio in Little Woodhouse Street.We lived in Victoria Terrace quite near to the Medical school where my father worked.

Jacob had a collection of prints,which he studied for his work,and when he became short of money,sold some of them to my father.These were prints made by famous artists.He also sold to him his own paintings and prints,and this is how we acquired this collection.
When the war came we moved to live in Burley-in Wharfedale near Ilkley,and we lost touch with him.

We met Sarah Roberts(Kramer)(1900-1992) his sister,and wife of William Roberts,and her son,John,(1919-1995)in 1984,in London,and became friendly with them.They were delightful people.We often visited her home,and as a special treat she showed us her husband's studio.She authenticated Jacob's paintings and prints for us,and was able to give us more information about them,especially the earlier ones.
John also helped us by giving us his book,"The Kramer Documents".He also gave us a booklet called "Jacob Kramer in his correspondence" reprinted from University of Leeds Review Volume30 (1987-1988)which gave us valuable information about the early portrait of Epstein which we have in our collection.
Just days before Sarah died in 1992,she came to see us and arranged for us to buy an early portrait of herself by Jacob,which is now part of our collection.

History of artist

Jacob Kramer was born in the Ukraine in 1892.His father had trained as a painter under Repin in St. Petersburg,enjoying court patronage.His mother was an opera singer.They enjoyed a cultured and reasonably comfortable way of life.This quality of Eastern European life is apparent in his art.

In 1900 he and his parents and three siblings had to flee from the Russian progroms.They came to Leeds in England and lived in four rooms. His father made a living out of the hack industry of photographic portraiture,and their life was a struggle to make ends meet.His father had to find work in a photographic factory,because his eyesight had deteriorated and he was unable to see to paint.

Jacob attended Darley Street Council School and in the evening used to attend night classes in Art at Leeds School of Art.In 1910 he first received financial help from the Jewish Educational Aid Society and as a result of this he won a day scholarship to the Leeds school of Art for two years. During this time he received helpful advice, encouragement and financial help from Sir Michael Sadler,vice chancellor of Leeds University.Sir Michael also bought his drawings as he was a very keen art collector himself.
Jacob was a very gifted and promising student. In 1912 the Jewish Educational Aid Society arranged for him to have a loan so that he could attend The Slade School of Art in London.He was there for 1 year from 1913 to 1914,but during that time he made some very good friends among the artists who were studying there,including Bomberg,Nevinson,Roberts and Gertler and became one of the leaders in the art world of the day.These artists apart from Roberts were all Jewish,and they formed the nucleus of what became the Ben Uri Society of Art,London. Jacob's sister Sarah met William Roberts,who was at the Slade at the same time as Jacob,while on holiday in London,and they later married.Both Roberts and Kramer were leaders of the Vorticist movement.

Everyone expected Jacob would stay in London,but after a while he went back to Leeds,where he always felt at home. His father was ill and died in 1916,and he felt obliged to look after his family.He made friends with people from all walks of life,and helped to found the Yorkshire Luncheon Group,where journalists,doctors,surgeons,authors,musicians,and actors,and many famous people,who were passing through the city all used to come together.He lived a very Bohemian type of life.
However life for an aspiring artist was not easy,and he found it very hard to make a living and was always short of money.He earned his living by painting portraits, often of famous people,sometimes of people he happened to know,but they were invariably honest portraits,and gave a sincere picture of the person below the surface.He was Jewish and his art shows his belief in Jewish values.He went back to London again, but eventually settled down in Leeds and stayed there.

He went back to Leeds School of Art to teach,where they were very glad to have him.He taught part time,so that he had plenty of time for his painting.He continued to teach there for many years,and had a big influence on their students.As he grew older he started to drink heavily and this caused his painting to deteriorate,and made it more difficult for him to make a living.He died in London in 1962.In 1968, after his death, Leeds College of Art branch became renamed The Jacob Kramer College of Art.


In 1960 there was a retrospective exhibition of his art at Leeds City Art Gallery.This was the first big exhibition of his work in Leeds,and it was too late for him to benefit from it,as he died soon after.

In 1984 The Ben Uri Gallery,London, held an exhibition "Jacob Kramer Reassessed" together with the Leeds City Art Gallery, and also Bournemouth and Hull Art galleries,in turn, showed the exhibition for a few months.

In 1992 there was a centenary exhibition of his art at the University Gallery,Leeds.

In 2003 The Ben Uri Gallery,which is now the Jewish Museum of Art,London.held an exhibition "The tortoise and The Hare"(in cooperation with the William Roberts Society) bringing together the works of William Roberts and Jacob Kramer.This was held first at the University Gallery,Leeds,and then at the Ben Uri Gallery,Jewish Museum of Art, London.


If you are interested in buying any paintings or prints contact me: dvorahuk2001@yahoo.co.uk