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Mark Gertler and Edward Marsh

John Simkin

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For many years Edward Marsh was Mark Gertler's patron. However, the two men fell out over the First World War. Gertler wrote to on 17th August 1915: "I have come to the conclusion that we two are too fundamentally different to continue friends. Since the war, you have gone in one direction and I in another. All the time I have been stifling my feelings. Firstly because of your kindness to me and secondly I did not want to hurt you. I am I believe what you call a 'Passivist'. I don't know exactly what that means, but I just hate this war and should really loathe to help in it."

Edward Marsh, who had forgiven Mark Gertler for his pacifism, continued to buy his paintings even though he admitted he no longer liked or understood his work. In 1939 Gertler had his last exhibition. It was not a great success. Gertler wrote to Marsh: "I'm afraid I am depressed about my show - I've sold only one so far... it's very disheartening." Marsh replied that he no longer liked Gertler's paintings. Gertler tried to explain his situation: "Obviously a number of other people feel as you do about my recent work... I can never set out to please - my greatest spiritual pleasure in life is to paint just as I feel impelled to do at the time... But to set out to please would ruin my process." The following month Gertler committed suicide in his studio.



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