Harold Gilman was born in Rode. Somerset. He spent a year in Odessa (1895) before studying at Hastings School of Art in Sussex and later at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Gilman's early career was frustrated by lack of financial and artistic success. In 1907 he met the painter Walter Sickert and became a founder member of the Fitzroy Street Group, later joining the Camden Town Group in 1911. Both groups advocated local unglamorous subject matter and Gilman's work was strengthened by both associations. His concentration on domestic interiors, painted with subtle, unemphatic realism was a departure from the conventions of English painting at the time, as was his use of bright, pure colour. Under Sickert's influence he was encouraged to experiment with new subjects such as the nude and interiors, and he became a detached observer of the world of London eating-houses, furnished rooms, landladies and parlours of the mid Edwardian years: these subjects he made his own. An impressive series of portraits from 1913 revealed Gilman's degree of physiological insight and sympathy, particularly with the denizens of working-class London, portrayed with a clear-eyed lack of sentimentality. In 1917 he was commissioned by the Canadian War Memorials Fund to paint Halifax Harbour. He died soon after its completion, a victim of the influenza epidemic of 1919.
Wyndham Lewis and Louis Fergusson, Harold Gilman: An Appreciation, Chatto and Windus, London, 1919