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

Few, if any, in the art world would argue that the Josef Herman story is one of the most heart-warming of them all. Born in Warsaw, after studying art, he worked as a graphic artist before emigrating to Belgium in 1938 where he attended the Brussels Academy of Fine Art.

Persecution was soon to follow, leading to his fleeing to Britain in 1940, living in Glasgow and London before becoming a much-loved and regarded 'Polish-Welshman' on moving to Ystradgynlais in the Welsh Valleys in 1944, where he continued his prodigious talent for over ten years.

Such was this talent, that only three years after arriving in Britain, he and L.S Lowry had held a two-man exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery, London.

Numerous exhibitions, commissions, publications and awards were soon to follow including a commission for a mural for a Pavilion of Minerals at the Festival of Britain 1951 and a Gold Medal at the Llanelli National Eisteddfod in 1962.

Living, as he was , in the heart of the South Wales mining community, Herman soon embraced and produced subjects which so many could relate to; including miners at the coal face, farm folk, cockle pickers, grape harvesters, mothers and their children, simple landscapes and even nudes and still life. Most of Herman's work communicated the simplicity of the working classes whether in Wales or on the Continent.

Like Sir Kyffin Williams, 'Jo Bach' worked a great deal in inkwash, he also worked in watercolours and pastels. His oil paintings are rare and appear on the market less frequently but can make thousands at auction when they are offered

Jo's work has wide appeal and in our Welsh Sale auction we sell paintings by him to collectors all round the UK. There are also collections in important organisations and institutions. Above all it is the charm and simplicity of his subjects which appeal to so many art collectors but it is also his social documentation of folk life which also attracts the market, particularly when it comes to his miners.

The Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru is an organisation that we have close links to. The Foundation is dedicated to promoting an appreciation of Jo's life and work and in fostering a wider participation in the arts and an awareness of human rights. This is done through the annual Award for schools, exhibitions, events, lectures and support for an annual prize at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

Below is a selection of Josef Herman works that we have sold in the last few years, with hammer prices noted.

Should you have work(s) by Josef Herman or other Welsh artists, then we would sincerely love to hear from you. Whether that be for a free and no-obligation appraisal or to provide you with an up to date insurance valuation. Please contact:

Ben Rogers Jones


Ben Rogers Jones BA (Hons)
Welsh Antiques, Welsh Art & Sporting Antiques Specialist

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