Josef Herman 1911-2000
from Studies for ‘The Pit Pony’:
Two Sketches of Two Seated Miners, Sketch of a Single Miner c.1953-5
Ink on cream wove paper 175 x 227 (6 7/8 x 8 7/8)
Inscribed on back in pencil ‘IC’ top right and ‘582’ bottom right
Presented by the artist 1981
Drawing Towards Painting, Arts Council tour 1961-2, Leicester Art Gallery, October-November 1961, Arts Council Gallery, Cambridge, November-December, Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, December 1961-January 1962, Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry, January-February, Gracefield Art Centre, Dumfries, February-March, Nottingham University Gallery, March, Turner House, Penarth, April, York City Art Gallery, May, Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, June, Arts Council Gallery, London, July-August, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, August-September 1962 (no number)
Josef Herman: Retrospective Exhibition, Camden Arts Centre, London, January-March 1980 (85a as ‘The Pit Pony Preliminary drawings ... Studies of Two Squatting Miners’)
Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1980-2, London 1984, pp.126-8, reproduced p.127 (as Two Sketches of Two Squatting Miners, Sketch of a Single Miner)
There is a clear relationship between Two Sketches of Two Seated Miners, Sketch of a Single Miner and the pair of miners on the right of The Pit Pony 1958-9 (T00354) for which it is a study. The accuracy with which it anticipates the arrangement of the limbs in the painting suggests that this was one of two drawings shown in 1961 and described as being ‘made to clarify the figures’. It is likely that the other was Reclining Miner (T03196), in which a similar pen and ink technique was employed to the same purpose; they are on the same type of paper and bear inscriptions - ‘1C’ and ‘1D’ respectively - on the reverse which may establish a sequence; it is notable that ‘1A’ and ‘1B’ are inscribed on the backs of the related wash drawings Two Seated Miners, Miner with Pony in Background and Three Seated Miners, Miner with Pony in Background (T03199 and T03200). Both of the line drawings were probably made in the studio and are indicative of an aspect of Herman’s preparatory method, in which they served as a place of familiarisation between quick sketches made before the motif and the conception of a composition. Five other sheets on the same size paper and two slightly larger works constituted the artist’s 1981 gift to the gallery of Studies for ‘The Pit Pony’.
The complexity of the descriptive title allotted to Two Sketches of Two Seated Miners, Sketch of a Single Miner is indicative of its composite nature. The single figure appears to be a partial and abandoned outline of the larger miner. The sketch in the lower left simply delineates the forms of this pair (the telegraph pole is marked with two parallel lines), while that to the right models them with ink washes. The fall of light on the bodies coincides with that eventually employed in the painting, but the shading of the heads (and the shadows they cast) is slightly different. Distinct too, is the delicacy of the handling in ink from the density achieved in oil paint.
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).