Jacob Kramer -Leeds or Whitechapel Boy ?

Jacob Kramer is a very well collected artist who ,having initially settled in the Leeds Jewish Ghetto when his family came over from Ukraine, moved to London and studied at the Slade . This period at the Slade was to become perhaps its most acclaimed,  as it nurtured some of the greatest talent of the day including Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, William Roberts, CRW Nevinson along side Isaac Rosenberg, Mark Gertler and David Bomberg. Indeed, the Slade had a significant presence of Jewish emigre students, starting with Mark Gertler in 1908. Soon after Bomberg and Clare Winsten became students, followed by three more of the artist group " The Whitechapel Boys",  Meninsky, Goldstein and Jacob Kramer, born , like Meninsky in the Ukraine and raised in Leeds. All were set apart from the other students by their extreme poverty, walking in together to Gower street from the East End , to save money.

In Isaac Rosenberg's last term he formed a brief ,unlikely friendship with Kramer who, at over 6 foot tall, towered over Rosenberg. Formidably bulky and well known for his boxing, Kramer once rescued Rosenberg from an anti-Semitic bully. Kramer admired Rosenberg's poetry and in return he dedicated a work to Kramer to mark their friendship.

He also came into contact with the Vorticists who were to influence his early work, and he exhibited with then in their 1915 exhibition when still only 23. The Vorticists were the British manifestation of Futurism, and were led by Wyndham Lewis who outlined their ideas in the short lived magazine , BLAST, published in 1914 when Kramer was in London. Although Vorticism never really took off as a coherent movement, several artists (such as Kramer) were influenced by it - eg Epstein ( The Rock Drill), Bomberg (The Mud Bath in the Tate) and most especially Nevinson who produced in some of his war paintings and etchings, some of the very best Vorticists work.  

 In the early 1920's Jacob Kramer returned to Leeds, where he became something of  local artistic celebrity . One of his major patrons was Sir Michael Sadler , one of the most discerning collectors of the day, and later became the Master of University College Oxford. Sadler was President of the ultra modernist Leeds Art Club which provided a meeting place for radical young artists such as Kramer. Sadler himself collected works by Gauguin and Kandinsky as well as the German Expressionists, so it was quite an achievement for Kramer to be included in his collection. In Leeds he also developed a reputation as a fine portraitist through which he was able to subsidise his other work. However, as time moved on , he lived in utter poverty and alcoholism, often in these later years producing poor quality portraits of local figures to pay for his drinks. He died in 1962 aged 70 years.