Join our mailing list


next previous

Jerwood Gallery is delighted to be able to reunite two portraits, both by Alfred Wolmark (1877-1961), of young soldier, Norman Kohnstamm, who fought and died in the First World War.

Alfred Wolmark painted several portraits of the Kohnstamm family, a prosperous German Jewish family who had settled in London. The work in the Jerwood Collection, titled ‘Portrait of Norman Kohnstamm’ (above, left), was purchased for the collection in 2004. The other portrait of Norman Kohnstamm (above right) has been in the Kohnstamm family’s collection since 1916. A chance visit to the Jerwood Gallery in 2013 by a member of the family led to the fascinating discovery of the ‘twin’ work in the Jerwood Collection. The Kohnstamm family have kindly agreed to loan the work to the gallery, reuniting the two portraits, which are on public display together for the first time in room 6.

Norman Kohnstamm was killed in action in France on 23 March 1918 aged 21, and was awarded three medals for his service: The Victory, The British and The 1915 Star. He served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Northern France. Norman’s younger brother, Oscar Jacob (known as Jack), also served on the Western Front. It has been suggested by the Kohnstamm family that the Jerwood Collection portrait may in fact be of Jack, based on photographs. Jack was killed in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme within weeks of arriving on the Western Front, aged just eighteen. Jack was at boarding school in Heidelberg when war broke out. His cousin, Rudolf, was killed fighting for Germany within a few months of Jack’s death, also in the Battle of the Somme. The third Kohnstamm brother, Geoffrey, survived the war, having been stood down waiting to embark on a ship to France on the day the war ended.

The display at Jerwood Gallery includes the two portraits alongside other Wolmark works from the collection and letters and photographs kindly leant by the Kohnstamm family.