West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
Pontefract Local History



1939 - 2007

Pontefract born artist David Gluck

In April of this year an article appeared in the Pontefract and Castleford Express written by Mrs Valerie Heaps of Kellington, informing that Mrs Susan Ford would be running in the 'Race for Life' charity run on July 15th at Pontefract Park, in memory of her second cousin, David Gluck, formerly of Pontefract, who had died earlier in the year. David was Mrs Heaps' cousin. This brought back to me long lost memories of the Gluck family from around the 1950's when they had a picture framing and restoring business, established in 1890. The shop was on Front Street and was situated opposite the parade of shops below Dunhill's sweet factory entrance. The property was amongst a row of houses and shops which were cleared in the 1960's for the planned new Jubilee Way. I had often wondered what had happened to David over the years, as he had disappeared from Pontefract. My only clue he may have gone into painting was a print I had purchased of Pontefract Market Place, painted by him in 1986. I contacted Mrs Heaps and she confirmed that David, whom she and the family were very proud of, had indeed left Pontefract in the 1960's for London, where over the years he had established himself as a very fine artist both in the capital and abroad. I mentioned this to Michael Norfolk, editor of the Digest Magazine, and he was only too pleased to tell the story of David Gluck. Norman Blackburn.

The Digest Magazine is proud to pay tribute to the life of Pontefract's most well known artist;
the award winning David Gluck RWS, RE, ARCA, NEAC.

Born in Pontefract on 29th October 1939, David Gluck displayed his artistic talents from a very early age. The only child of David and Eva Gluck, his great grandfather George, an immigrant German stonemason, was responsible for the carvings of the bulls heads on the facade of Pontefract Market Hall, whilst his grandfather and father were both well-known picture framers in the town, operating from their premises on Front Street from the beginning of the twentieth century, until a compulsory purchase order forced its closure in 1960 to make way for the construction of Jubilee Way.

David had a happy childhood and was particularly close to his cousin Valerie (nee Tether) as their mothers were twins. Growing up in the family shop on Front Street, surrounded by paintings, drawings and photographs waiting to be framed, he shared his father's passion for photography and imagery. During the late 1920's and 30's, his father entered many photographic competitions, regularly taking prizes for his efforts, which could be anything between £1 and £5. He once won the magnificent sum of £25. How much would that be worth in today's climate? His subjects were mainly members of the public and fishermen going about their daily business along the east coast, around Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay and his images are strikingly reminiscent of the beautiful photographs of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.

After leaving the Kingís School, Pontefract, at the age of 17, David Gluck trained at Wakefield College of Art before moving later to Leeds College of Art, where he was to meet his future wife and talented artist in her own right, Sally Hallam. In 1962 he took a Postgraduate Diploma in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art in London, while Sally studied at the Slade. They were married in 1963. Upon graduating, Sally and David moved to London to take up teaching positions, where they remained for the rest of their lives, although David never forgot his Yorkshire roots, and visited friends and family back home in Pontefract whenever time would allow.

On his retirement from teaching in 1994, David concentrated more on his personal artwork, preferring the medium of watercolour and the freedom of landscapes. Continuing the family tradition, he framed all of his own paintings and even developed his own photographs, putting into practice all that his father had taught him back in their Front Street premises.

He was elected a member of the London Group, the Royal Watercolour Society, the Royal Society of Painter, Etcher and Engravers, the Society of Landscape Painters and the New English Art Club. He won many prizes for his work, one being the House and Garden Award at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1988 where his winning picture entitled 'Spring Sunlight in the Studio' was purchased by the film producer David Puttnam of Chariots of Fire fame. His most recent award was First Prize in the prestigious Singer and Friedlander/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2006 for his portrayal of 'The Evening Sunlight, Petrognano', which was inspired by his love of Italy and all things Italian. Together, David and Sally spent many holidays in that part of the world, returning year after year, and also hosted summer schools in the area.

Davidís paintings have been exhibited far and wide and examples of his work can be seen in such prestigious places as The Ashmolean Museum, The British Museum, The Palace of Westminster and Leeds City Art Gallery as well as in many private collections.

Pontefract Marketplace by artist David Gluck Evening Sunlight, Petrognano, near Lucca, Italy by artist David Gluck Evening Gondolas, Venice, by artist David Gluck Tower Bridge, London, by artist David Gluck

A selection of paintings by artist David Gluck (click to enlarge)

Two of David's most treasured paintings, both watercolours depicting Pontefract Market Place and painted between 1986 and 1987, have been donated to Pontefract Museum for display. David vowed that he would never sell either of those paintings and now, in accordance with his wishes, they have been made available for viewing in his home town. The September 2007 cover of the Digest Magazine depicts the second of Davidís Pontefract Market Day paintings, a view looking towards the Town Hall which he painted in 1987.

Sadly, David and Sally were both to succumb to the dreadful disease of cancer, and after being nursed by David, Sally was to lose her fight for life in the spring of 2006. Another bitter blow was to follow when David was taken by the same disease on 17th February 2007, just eleven months after the devastating loss of his wife. Abiding by their wishes, the family were to bring them home to their final resting place in Pontefract Cemetery where their ashes are now interred in the family plot.

That David Gluck was a superbly talented artist is unquestionable but it is clear that a great deal of his success and perhaps the driving force behind his ambitions from an early age, was the passionate love of art bestowed on him by his father. As can be seen from the photographs reproduced in our David Gluck Gallery, taken from the early 1930s onwards when the true art of photography was still in its infancy, Davidís father was keen to experiment in his efforts to reproduce the images on paper that he so clearly visualised in his mind. Our tribute to the life of David Gluck, therefore, not only celebrates his own personal success and achievements as an artist renowned throughout the modern day world, but also the support and encouragement given to him by his family because we are sure that that is what David himself would have wanted.

We would like to thank Valerie Heaps for allowing us this opportunity to pay tribute to her cousin David Gluck.


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