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Miners Singing, a painting by Josef Herman.

©The artist's estate/Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

Josef Herman (1911 – 2000) was a realist artist who was known for his sketches and paintings of working people. He was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1911. He was one of several Jewish artists who fled eastern Europe to escape Nazi persecution. In 1938, he became a refugee and travelled to Britain. In 1942, he discovered that he had lost his entire family in the Holocaust.

In 1944, Herman went to Ystradgynlais in the Swansea valley. His visit was initially for a holiday, but he ended up staying for eleven years. He was quoted as saying, “I stayed here because I found all I required. I arrived here a stranger for a fortnight; the fortnight became 11 years.” He became a big part of the local community where he was fondly nicknamed ‘Joe Bach’. Herman was inspired by the strong sense of community in the town and the people of the town, particularly the miners, appeared in his art works.


Josef Herman, Miners Singing, oil on board, plaster ground, Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales [accessed 17 February 2022]

Josef Herman Art Foundation, Josef Herman [accessed 17 February 2022]

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