Gluck

Programme Length: 60 mins

Broadcaster: BBC Four

Broadcast Date: TBC

British artist Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein) was a well-known painter of the 1930s who painted aristocrats, judges, socialites and flower arrangements. The British establishment, including the Royal Family, flocked to her shows. What is perhaps surprising for the time is that Gluck also dressed as a man, had numerous female lovers and called her exhibitions ‘one man shows’. So what did 1930s upper-class society make of Gluck? This film tells the untold story of a celebrated artist who defied the gender and sexuality definitions of her time.

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From the use of the word ‘invert’ in Hall’s infamous book The Well of Loneliness to the word ‘sapphist’ used by upper-class bohemians in the 1930s, female homosexuality wasn’t clearly defined in Gluck’s time – the word ‘lesbian’ not yet widely used. As well as Gluck’s personal story, this film explores the modern British history of female homosexuality and its representation in culture, literature, fashion and art – from fashion glamorising of an androgynous look to Gluck’s most iconic painting Medallion, a double portrait of herself and her lover Nesta Obermer, which Gluck called her  ‘marriage portrait’.

With exclusive access to part of the Gluck archive, the film will include interviews with Gluck’s relatives, official biographer Diana Souhami and leading experts in fashion, art and sexual politics alongside Gluck admirers including Sandi Toksvig.