Photographs by John Gay, 1940s-1950s
81 Portraits in set
John Gay (1909-1999) was born Hans Gohler into a large family in Karslruhe, Germany and became interested in photography when he left school. He attended art school in Paris and worked in photography in Germany before leaving in 1933 after Hitler came to power with the family of a friend Walter Stern and settled in Halifax, Yorkshire where the Sterns became his adoptive family. Martha Stern was later to photograph Gustav Holst and these portraits became part of the Gay bequest. In 1939 he joined the Pioneer Corps having adopted the English name John Gay from the Beggar's Opera. On his marriage to Marie Arnheim in 1942, (she had left Berlin in 1936), he settled in London, moving to Hampstead in 1951 where he spent the rest of his life, working as a photographer principally of architecture, railway stations and graveyards and producing six books of his work Gay also worked as a potter. He took portraits for the Strand Magazine, under the editorship of MacDonald Hastings, until its closure in March 1950 and thereafter for Country Fair. 20 prints were acquired from the photographer in 1993 for use in various displays together with copies of the Strand containing his published work for the magazine. The remainder of his portrait work came to the Gallery as a bequest from his widow in 2003. Original negatives relating to most of the sittings were received by the gallery in May 2005.