Born an orphan, at the age of fourteen, Martin Bradley ran away to sea as a cabin boy making academic portraits of his shipmates on his journeys between England and South America. When he returned to London, he worked in Soho as a dishwasher and became well known because of both his striking paintings and his drinking, drug taking and promiscuous life. From here his work became recognised by the several London galleries including the Redfern Gallery and after showing his work, his paintings were bought by Dame Barbara Hepworth, and Sir Roland Penrose.
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