Mrs Mounter

Harold John Gilman, 1916 first exhibited

WAG 3135

About this object

'Mrs. Mounter' is one of a series of images of Gilman's landlady in Maple Street that he painted between 1914 and 1917. This painting was probably painted around 1916/17. A smaller slightly earlier oil version without the chair is in the Tate, and pen and ink studies are in the Ashmolean Museum and the Walker Art Gallery.

There is also another oil painting of Mrs Mounter in the Leeds City Art Gallery.

During his career Gilman came increasingly to paint and draw the surrounding subjects that were important and dear to him. Mrs Mounter is not glamorised; he wanted to recreate specific real characters on canvas. This approach derived from his admiration not only of Van Gogh's directness in portraiture but also that of Cézanne and Gauguin. Therefore the same motifs of Mrs Mounter, the patterned wallpaper and crockery feature repeatedly in his later work.

Gilman has combined the structural elements of draughtsmanship that he learnt as a young man at the Slade School of Art, with a more restrained handling of the colour and impasto that he had been experimenting with from 1913, resulting in his distinctive mosaic-like style. The paint carefully applied in flat planes and definite vertical of the doorway counteract the strong colouring resulting in this balanced composition. The influence of Matisse is evident in the outlining of Mrs Mounter, thus containing the colour as in a stained glass window. 'Mrs Mounter' has a sense of monumentality and tranquillity akin to Johannes Vermeer's paintings of women in simple interiors that also have a strong geometric element, such as 'Young Woman with a Water Pitcher' about 1660-1667. 'Mrs Mounter' is highly finished and very worked up yet it remains an intimate portrait.

Gilman developed a very individual style that had gone largely unnoticed when he died suddenly during the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1919. He sold very few works during his lifetime and it was not until the 1955 Arts Council exhibition of his work that he began to receive recognition for his short-lived but significant contribution to British modernism.

'Mrs Mounter' was purchased in 1943 from Reid and Lefevre; it was previously owned by Gilman's second wife Mrs Sylvia Gilman. It was exhibited at the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition in 1933.

Object specifics

  • Other title(s)
    Mrs Mounter (the artist's landlady in Maple St)
  • Artist(s)
    Harold Gilman (British: English, born:1876-02-11, died:1919-02-12)
  • Date
    1916 first exhibited
  • Materials
    Oil paint; Canvas
  • Measurements
    frame: 117 cm x 87.2 cm x 8 cm
  • Physical description
    A portrait of a woman sitting at a table in a kitchen, She is wearing a red head scarf and red coat. The table is covered with a white table cloth and laid with a black tea pot, a gold milk jug and two cups and saucers, there are also two plates slightly in view. There is a door and kitchen cabinets in orange tones in the background and the back of a chair on the right.
  • Related people
    Harold Gilman (Artist/maker) ; Sylvia Gilman (Previous owner) ; Lefevre Gallery (Previous owner)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 3135
  • Credit line
    Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery in 1943
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Room 11
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Previous owners

  • Sylvia Gilman

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Lefevre Gallery

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1943
    Disposal method: Sold to the Walker Art Gallery


Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: H. Gilman
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Front; Lower right
  • Inscription text: 1933 LAE. Harold Gilman / Mrs. Gilman / 33, Parliament Hill, W.3.
    Inscription method: Label
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location:
Object view = Fine Art
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