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The Washerwomen
© estate of Josef Herman. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Photo credit: Birmingham Museums Trust

The Washerwomen 1953–1954

Josef Herman (1911–2000)

Birmingham Museums Trust

Polish-born painter who became a British citizen in 1948. He was born in Warsaw, the son of a Jewish cobbler, and studied at the Warsaw School of Art, 1930–31. In 1938 he moved to Brussels, then in 1940 to Glasgow, where he became a friend of another Polish refugee, Jankel *Adler. He moved to London in 1943, then from 1944 to 1953 lived in the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais. Ill health forced him to seek a drier climate and subsequently he lived in London and Suffolk. Herman is best known for his sombre pictures of Welsh miners, with whom he felt a strong affinity. He often showed their black figures silhouetted against the sun: ‘This image of the miners on the bridge against a glowing sky mystified me for years with its mixture of sadness and grandeur.

Text source: A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art (Oxford University Press)


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