Michael Gilbery (born Goldberg) was born in London on 18th October 1913. After leaving school he gained a scholarship to St Martin's School of Art and later the Royal College of Art where he studied under the likes of Roland Pitchforth, Sir William Rothenstein and Gilbert Spencer.
Michael first gained recognition when, at the age of seventeen, his portrait of his father was hung in the Royal Academy and was hailed a triumph by a number of leading critics.
His talent for portraiture was also noted during his time at the Royal College of Art. Percy Horton, another of his tutors, writes that 'Mr Goldberg is an able draughtsman and a powerful and solid painter' and that 'perhaps Mr Goldberg's chief ability however lies in the direction of portraiture where he has shown real accomplishment - a facility for obtaining a likeness combined with a lively and sympathetic handling.'
After leaving college Michael Gilbery was commissioned to paint The Royal Historic Cavalcade for George VI's coronation. The murals covered the department store Swears and Wells and included a 50ft centrepiece of St George and the Dragon, described in the press at the time as 'one of the sensations of the Coronation.'
Michael Gilbery also gained recognition for his Jewish scenes some of which were exhibited at the Whitechapel Art Gallery 1932.
Throughout his life he made a living from portrait commissions but continued exhibiting at the Royal Academy, Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the New English Art Club among others. His work is in public collections at University College, London and the Solent Sky Museum, Southampton. A portrait that was formerly in the permanent collection of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is now in a commercial gallery in Brooklyn.
In April 2000, during the initial covid-19 lockdown in the UK, the Michael Gilbery Estate and Richard Winterton Auctioneers presented an online retrospective exhibition and sale. Sixty-three of Gilbery's paintings, along with a number of drawings and sketches, representing every phase of his career from art school onwards, were included. The entire exhibition sold out, and included a new record price achieved for a Gilbery work.