KRAMER, Jacob

Jacob Kramer  Russian 1892-1962

Jacob Kramer, painter and printmaker, born in  the Ukraine,into an artistic middle-class Jewish family. His father, Max, was a painter who had studied at the St Petersburg Fine Art Academy who settled in Leeds in 1900 after being persecuted.

Kramer his first formal art education was at Leeds School of Art which he attend from 1907 till 1913. During this time he was also to become involved in the radical modernist organisation the Leeds Art Club,which introduced him to the ideas of expressionist artists.With a scholarship from the Jewish Educational Aid Society, Kramer was able to study at the Slade School of Art  from 1913 to 1914. Here be befriended other leading artists of the day, including Augustus John, David Bomberg and William Roberts and he was involved in the Vorticist movement led by Roberts and Wyndham Lewis although was never really a follower of the style.

In the early 1920s Kramer returned to Leeds where he became something of a local artistic celebrity. After the collapse of the Leeds Arts Club in 1923 he organised an  informal gathering called the Yorkshire Luncheon Club, which met regularly at Whitelock’s public house in Leeds, and invited some of the leading cultural figures of the 1930s, 40s and 50s to Leeds to speak.

Epstein asked Kramer to model for him, and offered to sit for Kramer in return. He later wrote: ‘The Leeds painter, Kramer, was a model who seemed to be on fire. He was extraordinarily nervous. Energy seemed to leap into his hair as he sat, and sometimes he would be shaken by queer trembling like ague. I would try to calm him so as to get on with the work’.

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