Artist and Law-Breaker Jim Gilbert
Daniel Goddard, Head of the Picture Department, looks at the artist and law-breaker
Jim Gilbert (1933-1995) who started life in the East End of London but began painting
while in prison during the 1960s. He won the Arthur Koestler Award for Prisoner
Art and even painted a portrait of Dylan Thomas that was presented to Jimmy Carter.
Jim Gilbert (1933-1995): Sheila Drunk (FS33/383). Oil on canvas. 40 x 50cm. Estimate
The artist law-beaker, Jim Gilbert (1933-1995) grew up in the East End of London
and was dishonourably discharged from National Service, aged 21. He was a big, powerful
man who spent years in jail for crimes ranging from drug smuggling to robbery.
Jim Gilbert (1933-1995): A Basket of Apples at the Market (FS33/377). Oil on board.
34.5x24.5cm. Estimate £50-£80.
Confined in the 1960s, he began painting as a form of therapy. Many of his figure
paintings, in the well observed style of say, Peter Howson, are worked with a sombre,
narrow palette and reflect, in a self-reflective and isolated way, his harsh life
In 1972, Gilbert had his first show in Bath. He received the Arthur Koestler Award
for Prisoner Art and in 1973 was chosen by The Dylan Thomas Society
to paint a portrait of the Thomas for presentation to US President Jimmy Carter.
His later works of Morocco and Spain, where he died, are sensitive, calm and gentle
watercolours. The picture sale on 24th January 2017 has a small
collection of East End oil paintings by Gilbert that depict drunkards in busy bar
interiors, street scenes, market traders and local school children. The paintings
have an earthy frankness and reality expressing human character from the centre
of a tight knit East End community. Estimates range from £50 upwards.
Jim Gilbert (1933-1995): Coming from School (FS33/378). Oil on canvas.
75x60cm. Estimate £100-£150.
- Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood
- Fine Art Auctions
- Jim Gilbert (1933-1995)
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