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The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more


August 13, 1895–January 10, 1978

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Gluck until we are able to commission a full entry.

Gluck by Gluck, 1942.

Portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The gender nonconforming painter Gluck, who refused categorization in all things, was known for her spare, evocative paintings of flowers, prizefighters, landscapes, and even rotting fish. Born Hannah Gluckstein, Gluck graduated from St. John’s Wood School of Art in 1916. At age 21 she used her trust fund to buy a studio in Cornwall, where she studied with landscape artists of the Newlyn School and began dressing in men’s clothes and insisting on the more androgynous name Gluck with no gendered prefix. In 1923 she began working with portrait artist Romaine Brooks on a series of portraits of themselves and each other. Beginning in 1932, when she entered a relationship with London decorator and florist Constance Spry, she created paintings of flowers that Spry incorporated into her designs. One of her most famous works, Medallion (1937), depicted Gluck and her lover at the time, Nesta Obermer, at the moment Gluck felt the couple became married. She lived with Edith Shackleton Heald, the first woman journalist in the House of Lords, from 1944 until Heald’s death in 1976. In the 1950s Gluck took a decade-long hiatus from painting while she lobbied successfully for the British Standards Institution to create uniform standards for manufacturers naming paint hues and canvas types. Her final painting in the early 1970s, Rage Rage Against the Dying of the Light, depicted a rotting fish on the beach in muted colors that emphasized both the creature’s death and its inherent grace.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Gluck." (Viewed on March 28, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/gluck>.


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