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Bernard Meninsky (1891 – 1950) was a figurative artist, painter of figures and landscape in oils, watercolour and gouache, draughtsman and teacher. He was born in Karotopin now in the Ukraine but raised in Liverpool where he attended the Liverpool School of Art in 1906 after initially attending evening classes in art. He won the King’s Medal in 1911 and went on to study briefly at Royal College of Art in London and the Academie Julian in Paris. After being awarded a scholarship he was able to enter the Slade School of Fine Art in 1912-13. In 1913 he worked for Edward Gordon Craig at his theatre school in Florence, later returning to teach at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

According to Lisa Tickner, the family name was Menushkin, ‘but it was unceremoniously entered as ‘Menisky’ by an English customs officer, whilst Meninsky himself added the second ‘n.’’ See: Tickner, Lisa. Modern Life and Modern Subjects: British Art in the Early Twentieth Century. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2000, p 288 (note 77).

During the first world war he joined the Royal Fusiliers, fighting with General Edmund Allenby in Palestine. He was naturalised a British Citizen in 1918 but had a nervous breakdown and was discharged from service after six months as a Ministry of Information war artist.

In 1920 he was appointed as a tutor of life drawing at the Westminster School of Art, where he was renowned as a superb figure draughtsman. In this period he was also associated with the Bohemian Bloomsbury Group and the Garman sisters. In 1940 he moved to Oxford City School of Art, and returned to the Central School in 1945.

Bernard Meninsky held his first solo show at Goupil Gallery in 1919 along with The London Group and the New English Art Club (NEAC). He published Mother and Child: 28 Drawings in 1928 and illustrated the 1946 volume of Milton's poems L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. In 1935 he designed sets for the ballet 'David' for the Markova-Dolin Company.

Meninsky suffered from mental illness for much of his life and committed suicide in 1950 [1] .

A Meninsky memorial exhibition was organised by the Arts Council in 1951-52, and a retrospective show was staged at the Adams Gallery in 1958.

His works are on show at the Arts Council, British Museum, Imperial War Museum, National Gallery of Ireland, Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, and galleries in Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.


  1. ^ [1]

'Bernard Meninsky' by John Russell Taylor, Redcliffe Press, 1990

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