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Josef Herman O.B.E., R.A. (1911 – 2000)

“Peasant on a Donkey”

Mixed Media.  Ink, Watercolour, Coloured Chalk

9 ¾” x 7 ½” (245mm x 190mm)

Overall framed size 16 1/8” x 13 ¾” (410mm x 350mm)

Provenance:  Exhibited at the New Grafton Gallery, London on 7.6.2001

Catalogue number 17.  Their label to the reverse. Where purchased by David Witt Esq.

Originally from the Estate of the late Josef Herman

Also bears label from the Artist’s wife Nini Herman certifying that it was painted by her husband             IMAGE                 IMAGE                 IMAGE



This picture is unsigned.  Herman, when asked by Agi Katz, the then Curator of the Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, said “I never sign my work - they are signed all over.”  

He did however sign his lithographic editions.



Josef Herman was a painter in oil, ink, watercolour and pastel and produced a number of lithographs.  He was born in Warsaw in 1911 and first became an apprentice printer and compositor.  He then worked as a commercial artist whilst attending evening classes in art and gained a place at the Warsaw School of Art and Decoration.  His first exhibition was in Warsaw in 1932 of large expressionistic watercolours of peasants, influenced by Munch.  In the same year he participated in Avant Garde art groups and started writing.  In 1938 he left Poland and went to Belgium where he became friendly with Permeke and also de Smet.  In 1940, with the approaching German occupation, he escaped to France and on to Britain,  arriving in Glasgow,  where he met Jankel Adler whom he had previously met in Poland.   He then became involved with stage and costume design with the Celtic Ballet.  In 1943 he moved to London where he had a joint exhibition with L.S. Lowry at Reid and Lefevre and where he was also introduced to Epstein and other Jewish intellectual circles that organised weekly lectures and whose members were Koenig, Bloch, Adler, Meidner and Bomberg.  In 1944 he visited Ystradgynlais in South Wales on holiday where he decided to settle.  In  1946 he had his first solo exhibition in London at Roland, Browse and Delbanco, leading to 35 years of collaboration.  He gained British citizenship in 1948, after which he travelled to France and Italy.  He received a commission for the Festival of Britain to paint a mural for the Pavilion of Minerals, featuring miners, now in the Museum of Wales, Cardiff.  Following this he travelled to Spain, Portugal and Greece and was invited to join the London Group.  He travelled to Israel where he stayed for several months.  In 1955 he left Ystradgynlais and moved to London, later moving to Suffolk with Dr. Nini Ettlinger, who he married in 1961.  In 1962 he was awarded a gold medal for services to Welsh Art by the Royal National Eisteddfod in Llanelli.  From 1965 to 1966 he had an extended period in Mexico.  In 1972 he moved to London.  He was awarded an OBE for his services to British Art in 1981 and became a Royal Academician in 1990 and in 1992 he received a Silver Medal in Cardiff for his services to Art.  He died in 2000. 


Work in Museums and Public Collections

In Britain

Abbott Hall Gallery, Kendall; Aberdeen Art Gallery, Scotland; Arts Council of Great Britain; Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport; Birmingham City Museums and Art Gallery; The British Council; The British Museum, London; Cecil Higgins Museum, Bedford; City Art Gallery, Bristol; The Contemporary Art Society; The Geffrye Museum, London; Glasgow Museums and City Art Gallery; Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield; Huddersfield Art Gallery; Kettering Art Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery; Leicestershire Museums and Art Galleries and Record Service; Manchester City Art Galleries; Middlesborough Art Gallery; National Museum of Wales, Cardiff; National Portrait Gallery, London; Nottingham Art Gallery; Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery; Rugby Art Gallery; Selford Art Gallery; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Sheffield City Art Gallery; Southampton Art Gallery; South London Art Gallery; Tate Gallery, London; Ulster Museum, Belfast; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Wakefield City Art Gallery and York City Art Gallery. 


Work in Museums and Public Collections


The City Art Gallery, Aukland, New Zealand; Durban Art Gallery, South Africa; the Ein Harod Museum, near Haifa, Israel; Hamilton Art Gallery, Ontario, Canada; Israel Art Museum, Jerusalem; Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa; King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth, South Africa; Leipzig Museum, Der Bildenden, Kunste, Germany; Melbourne National Gallery, Australia; Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; National Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; National Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa; Tel Aviv Art Gallery, Israel; Toronto Art Gallery, Ontario, Canada and Wellington National Gallery, New Zealand. 


He also exhibited Internationally in many mixed exhibitions


Films on Josef Herman

Josef Herman 55 Minute Film by Dennis Mitchell, Granada TV (early 1950s); The Artist Speaks produced by John Read, BBC TV (1960); Josef Herman, Director Anthony Roland, Anthony Roland Films (1962).  A Day Eleven Years Long, 60 minute film by John Ormond, BBC Cardiff (1975); A Brush with Fate, producer Dick Vigers, BBC Wales and Slade (1977)