Five lithographs by Josef Herman (1911-2000) came to auction from a private collection in north Wales and were offered as a single lot with an estimate of £750-850.
The artist was born in Warsaw, the son of a Jewish cobbler, and studied at the Warsaw School of Art but later moved to Brussels, Glasgow and then London before settling in the Welsh mining village of Ystradgynlais in 1944.
He became particularly known for sombre pictures of coal miners – he was fondly referred to as ‘Joe Bach’ by the local mining community – but also documented the lives of rural workers he had seen on his travels around Europe.
This quintet, each from an edition of 25, depicted agricultural workers including grape pickers in Burgundy.
They drew bids from a number of different parties before they were knocked down at £1500 to a private collector in Swansea.
Copies of this set have emerged before, most recently at Cambridge saleroom Cheffins in September last year where one took £950, but this was the highest price so far at auction (source: Artprice by Artmarket).
Also on offer were two prints by John Elwyn (1916-97), another artist with a strong following in Wales.
He was born in south Cardiganshire where his father ran a wool mill.
Buyers of his paintings look for the most evocative interpretations of the Welsh landscape and its people, and this is also true of his prints.
First up at Rogers Jones was a 16½ x 23½in (42 x 60cm) signed lithograph of Laugharne estuary in Camarthenshire. A semi-abstract work, it shows the estuary looking out from where Dylan Thomas’ boathouse stands.
Estimated at £100-150, it sold at £440 to a collector in the west of England – a sum that appears to be the highest at auction for a print by Elwyn.
The other Elwyn print was a 17¾in (45cm) signed lithograph of a farmyard with two figures, a cat and geese being fed.
From an edition of 260, it came from a north Wales private vendor and was pitched at £150-200. It sold at £360, another strong sum but one that underlines the value for money prints can provide.