GLAHA:44152, Professor Alan M. Boase (1902-1982), Herman, Josef, 1942, painting, tempera and gouache on board

GLAHA:17874, Two Miners, Herman, Josef, c.1930-1962, print, lithograph, ink on paper

Josef Herman, born in 1911 in Warsaw, was a younger friend of Jankiel Adler. Adler depicted both of them in his work ‘Orphans’ 1941 currently the Tate.[7] Both of the artists were Polish Jews, sought refuge in the UK, and after their initial time in Glasgow moved to England in 1943.

It was during his time in Glasgow when Herman portreyed Professor Alan M. Boase (1902–1982), Marshall Professor of French at the University of Glasgow who played a role in nominating Mark Chagall for an honorary degree from the University (the artist received his honorary degree in 1959). The portrait was executed in 1942 a year before Herman moved to London.

His other work currently in the Hunterian collections was created in the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais where Hunter lived from 1944-1953. The ‘image of the miners on the bridge against a glowing sky mystified me for years with its mixture of sadness and grandeur’ [8] wrote the artist reflecting on this period of his life. ‘I do not need a war to make me think of heroism. It is our endurance of the everyday.’- he acknowledged. [9] Herman eventually returned to London and lived there until his death in 2000 but the works from his Welsh period remained of huge significance to his oeuvre. Collins wrote about the ‘monumental dignity’ of the miners Herman depicted and the ‘profondly poetic and romantic dream of the human predicament’ [10] he expressed through this work.

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