Catalogue entry

Josef Herman 1911-2000

from Studies for ‘The Pit Pony’:
Two Separate Sketches, Upper One with a Pony at Right c.1953-5


Ink on cream laid paper, 254 x 200 (10 x 7 7/8)

Inscribed on back in pencil ‘582’ bottom right

Presented by the artist 1981

Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1980-2, London 1984, pp.126-8, reproduced p.128

This is one of a pair of slightly larger drawings included among the Studies for ‘The Pit Pony’ given to the Tate Gallery by Josef Herman, and neither appears to demonstrate the close relationship to the painting seen in the other seven. Like Two Separate Sketches, Each with Pony at Right (T03201), the details of Two Separate Sketches, Upper One with a Pony at Right suggest that they were made for a different composition which remains unidentified. Both parts of this sheet are dominated by the pair of miners by a telegraph pole which also appears in the companion drawing, but which differs significantly from the pair in The Pit Pony. In the upper sketch, in which the tonal contrast of the wash is more various but limited to grey, they are joined by the handler and pony – or probably a donkey – which also appears in the companion drawing. In the darker lower sketch, where the red-brown wash is used, a crouching and a standing figure fill the right side. The timelessness and lack of specificity of these images speaks for Herman’s view of a unifying nobility of manual labour.

This is one of nine sheets of Studies for ‘The Pit Pony’ presented by the artist; general issues relating to their creation are discussed in the entry on Reclining Miner (Tate T03196).

Matthew Gale
November 1998