Ben Uri collection

Two Seated Figures

Artist information

Name Josef Herman (1911-2000)

Born Warsaw, Poland

Died London, England

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Painter and draughstman Josef Herman was born into a Jewish, working-class family in Warsaw in 1911. He studied at Warsaw School of Art and Decoration (1930-31), and first exhibited in his native city in 1932. He left Poland for Brussels in 1938 and arrived in Glasgow in 1940, where he was reunited with fellow Polish artist Jankel Adler, whom he had known briefly in Warsaw. Together the two artists contributed to a resurgence of the Scottish arts scene during this period.

Herman moved to London in 1943, prior to his relocation to the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais (1944-55), which gave rise to his best-known body of work focusing on the Welsh miners and their community.

Herman's work was included in the South Bank Festival of Britain Exhibition in 1951 and he exhibited widely including at the Lefevre galleries, London (with L S Lowry, 1943), with the emigre art dealers Roland, Browse & Delbanco (1946, 1948, 1952, then regularly until 1975), in London, with Ben Uri (including alongside Martin Bloch in 1949), the Geffrye Museum (with Henry Moore, 1954), the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1956), Camden Arts Centre (1980), National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (1989), Abbot Hall, Kendal (2005), and many exhibitions with Flowers and Flowers East Galleries. His work is represented in many collections including London (Tate, V&A), Wales (National Museum), Scotland (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art); as well as in Canada, Australia, Israel, South Africa and New Zealand.

Object Details

Date 1952

Object type drawing

Medium pen and ink and wash on paper

Materials and techniques ink | pen (medium) paper (support)

Unframed 9.5 x 14.5 cm

Framed 23 x 26.7 cm

Acquisition Presented by Gustav Delbanco 1988 (stamped 03.12.1952)

Accession number 1988-24i

Display status not on display

This image was made on the front of a postcard during Herman's two-and-a-half month visit to Israel at the end of 1952. The artist later recalled that he could not stop drawing and produced over 200 drawings in ten weeks, many of them of the Kibbutzniks. The strong, earthy figures and monumental forms show Herman's respect for those who worked the land.

This postcard was donated by the addressee, Gustav Delbanco, one of the three eponymous gallerists of Roland, Browse and Delbanco, established in London’s Cork Street by Henry Roland (né Heinz Rosenbaum) and Gustav Delbanco, both refugees of German-Jewish origin, together with Lilian Browse, in 1945. Herman had his first solo show there in 1946 and went on to exhibit with them for almost 30 years. They also exhibited a number of other émigré artists postwar including Jankel Adler, Alfred Cohen, Heinz Inlander and Katerina Wilczynski.

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© Josef Herman estate

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by Josef Herman