Ronda Valley

DAVID BOMBERG (1890-1957)

Ronda Valley

1954 England

Offered by Daniel Katz Ltd

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- With Crane Kalman Gallery, London
- Sale, Sotheby’s, London, 25 June 1980, lot. 69

The fifth child of a Polish immigrant leather worker, Bomberg spent his earliest years in Birmingham and then grew up in the Whitechapel area of London. He suffered considerable financial hardship while studying at evening classes given by Walter Byes (1869-1956) at the City and Guilds Institute from about 1905 to 1908 and by Walter Sickert at Westminster Art School from 1908 to 1910. With the help of John Singer Sargent and the Jewish Education Aid Society, he secured a place at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, in 1911. It was a period of dramatic change, stimulated in part by Roger Fry’s two Post-Impressionist exhibitions and the display of Italian Futurist works at the Sackville Gallery in 1912. Bomberg was one of the most audacious painters of his generation, proving in works such as Vision of Ezekiel (1912) and Ju-jitsu (c.1913; both London, Tate) that he could absorb the most experimental European ideas and come up with a robust style of his own. Later he would evolve a form of expressionism that reflected a personal response to the landscape around him and in his famous classes at the Borough Polytechnic in the 1940s and 1950s urged artists to seek the “spirit in the mass”.
Bomberg travelled to Spain for the first time in 1929. There he broke through to a more free and expressive style and every painting arose from intense observation of the motif. The city of Ronda in Andalucia, where Bomberg moved in 1935, is perched on a rocky plateau before a spectacular gorge. The artist responded to this dramatic position with bold pigments, assertive brushmarks and thick impastos. In 1954 Bomberg returned to Ronda. He had not been back to Spain since 1935, when he had been forced to flee the Spanish Civil War. His being there again rekindled the intensity with which he had reacted to the landscape two decades before. The powerful pictures from this period feature vigorously handled paint and sharply contrasting colours. Ronda would be once again for Bomberg the subject of several powerful paintings and drawings made on the spot, in the last years before his death.
Height 63.00 cm (24.80 inches)
Width 76.00 cm (29.92 inches)
Oil on canvas
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