Painter, born in Spitalfields, London, the son of Polish refugees. In Gertler’s childhood, his family, in desperate poverty, moved to Austria, then America, before settling back in London in 1896. Gertler studied at Regent Street Polytechnic, 1906, but the following year, at his father’s insistence, was apprenticed in a stained-glass works. In 1908 he entered the Slade, with financial assistance from the Jewish Education Aid Society and in 1910 won the Slade prize for portrait painting. Here he was associated with the Whitechapel Boys but left the Slade in 1912, having already made friends with the patron Edward Marsh, and the artist, Dora Carrington, who brought him into the Bloomsbury set and with Lady Ottoline Morrell. Through them, he exhibited with the Friday Club and went on to paint his most famous picture, Merry-Go-Round, (now in the Tate Gallery) in 1916. As a conscientious objector, this was a clear statement of Gertler’s abhorrence of war. In 1918, Gertler briefly showed with the with Roger Fry’s Omega Workshops. In 1992 an important exhibition of his paintings and drawings took place at the Camden Arts Centre.
He held his first solo exhibition in 1921 at Goupil Gallery and also showed at the NS in its early years and with the Pastel Society. Periods were spent in sanatoriums in the early 1920-s owing to his tuberculosis, but he continued to paint and exhibit despite ill-health. Unhappiness, hardship and severe depression contributed to his suicide. During the 1930’s he became a part-time teacher at the Westminster School of Art to supplement his spasmodic income from painting. The Ben Uri, Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries, Fitzwilliam Museum, Gracefield Arts Centre, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Hull University, Jerwood Gallery, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent Art Gallery and the Tate Gallery are among major museums in the UK that hold examples of his work.