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Roland, Browse & Delbanco

  • Émigré art historians and art dealers, Henry Roland and Gustav Delbanco, along with Lillian Browse, opened their Mayfair gallery, Roland, Browse & Delbanco, in 1945.
  • Name:
    Roland, Browse & Delbanco
  • Kind of Organisation:
    GalleryArt Dealer
  • Introduction:

    Émigré art historians and art dealers, Henry Roland and Gustav Delbanco, along with Lillian Browse, opened their Mayfair gallery, Roland, Browse & Delbanco, in 1945.

    Word Count: 24

  • Content:

    Roland, Browse & Delbanco exhibited and sold British and French art of the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, with a strong emphasis on contemporary artists. The gallery opened in 1945 at 19 Cork Street, a street that was already home to the London Gallery (1936–1939, 28 Cork Street), Redfern Gallery (since 1936, 20 Cork Street), Guggenheim Jeune (1938/39, 30 Cork Street) and Mayor Gallery (since 1933, 19 Cork Street). Henry Roland, Lillian Browse and Gustav Delbanco took over the vacant premises of the Mayor Gallery and started their business in a gallery street steeped in tradition, that is still home to numerous galleries today (http://corkstgalleries.com/history/). Galleries founded and/or led by émigrés such as Marlborough Fine Art and Storran Gallery were in a few minutes walking distance, and the 20th Century German Art exhibition was held around the corner.

    Gustav Delbanco (1903–1997) was a descendent of a Venetian Jewish trading family that moved to Hamburg in the 19th century. Delbanco, who held a PhD in art history from the University of Heidelberg, emigrated to London in the early 1930s. Henry Roland (1907–1993), né Heinrich Rosenbaum, came from Munich. His grandfather was the art dealer Adolf Stern, co-owner of the Königlich Bayrischen Hofantiquitätenhandlung A. S. Drey at Maximiliansplatz 7. Roland/Rosenbaum was awarded a doctorate in art history by Wilhelm Pinder in 1928 (Roland 1991, 12). In 1929 he went to London to look for work (Farr 1993). In 1933, together with Gustav Delbanco, he opened an art business at 199 Piccadilly, where the two established themselves as connoisseurs of 17th and 18th century art, their expertise being requested by museums such as the British Museum (Steven 2011). They succeeded in selling undervalued works of art at auction, for some of which they were able to establish exact attributions, including a Lucas van Leyden and a Rubens. After the outbreak of war, they closed their art business and Roland became an air raid warden.

    In 1945 Delbanco and Roland opened a contemporary art gallery at 19 Cork Street with Lillian Browse (1906–2005). Lillian Browse began her gallery career in 1931 at the Leger Gallery in London. During the war, she organised temporary exhibitions such as British Painting since Whistler (1940) at the National Gallery, whose permanent collection had been moved to the countryside for safety (Farr 2006). Browse met Henry Roland when she started taking German lessons with him: “In those days all art books were in German [...] and so German was an essential language. Neither Gustav nor Henry Roland had much money so they had to do things like give German lessons. But they were widely accepted as men of quite remarkable knowledge.” (Browse, in Steven 2011) As a recognised art historical expert on modern art, Browse was an important associate of the gallery: she published monographs with the Faber & Faber publishing house on Augustus John (1941), Walter Sickert (1943), Constantin Guys (1946) and Barbara Hepworth (1946) and wrote the book Degas Dancers (1949). Browse also had valuable social connections, which helped the gallery establish a name for itself, as well as facilitating access to loans in the early years (Roland 1991, 54).

    With exhibitions on Walter Sickert (1946, 1960), Henry Gotlieb (1948), William Nicholson (1948), Henry Moore (1948, 1957), Josef Herman (1955), and Graham Sutherland (1960), Roland, Browse & Delbanco made a name as a gallery for established and emerging contemporary English artists. Some artists, such as Josef Herman, Walter Sickert and Philip Sutton, continued to be shown at the gallery over decades (Browse 1999, 133). Roland writes: “It can be said in the course of our long partnership we put on so many Sickert exhibitions, and so many of his pictures passed through our hands, that I believe we may have handled a third of his entire oeuvre!” (Roland 1991, 56) The gallery held monograph exhibitions (Norman Adams, Rodin, Walter Sickert, Philip Sutton) and also showed its artists in constellations, as in the double exhibition of paintings by Philip Sutton and collages by Margaret Kaye in 1960. For some artists, Roland, Browse & Delbanco provided their first comprehensive presence in London: the emigrated Polish painter Zdzisław Ruszkowski, who had lived in London since 1944, received six solo exhibitions at Roland, Browse & Delbanco between 1948 and 1957. Prunella Clough had a major solo show at the gallery in 1949. Roland, Browse & Delbanco was also an exhibition venue for continental modernism: in 1950 the gallery presented a Lovis Corinth show, and in 1971 an exhibition on Paul Klee. Roland, Browse & Delbanco organised many group shows, including the widely reviewed 1951 Fauves. Painting in France and Abroad (Roland 1991, 67). For this exhibition, emigrants such as the art historian Rosa Schapire provided loans.

    Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was also present in the private collection of Henry Roland. He and Gustav Delbanco set different priorities: Henry Roland, who lived in Hampstead (6 Winchester Road, London NW3) owned sculptures by Moore and Rodin, works by Bonnard and Vuillard, and also collected Expressionists such as Erich Heckel, August Macke and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, as well as the Surrealist Max Ernst, whose Bride of the Winds and Forest and Sun Roland acquired for his private collection (Roland 1991, 69).
    Gustav Delbanco also lived in Hampstead (20 Lyndhorst Road, London NW3) surrounded by historical and modern art that included works by Rubens, Rodin and Degas, while also collecting folk art, such as Staffordshire figurines (Steven 2011).
    Lillian Browse, aside from her publishing and exhibition activities, also collected art works, including work by Walter Sickert, on whom she published two books, and the bronze Danseuse en Quatrieme Devant, Pointe Tendu by Degas, to whom she dedicated her book Degas Dancers in 1949. Works by William Nicholson, whose catalogue raisonnée she published in 1956, were also part of her collection. In 1982, she donated part of her collection to the Courtauld Institute in London (Farr 2006; Roland 1991, 63).

    In July 1977, Roland, Browse & Delbanco held its last exhibition, Our Thirty Years in Retrospect (Browse 1999, 179). Lillian Browse took over the premises and founded Browse & Darby Gallery with William Darby, but left in 1981.
    Lillian Browse’s memoir The Duchess of Cork Street. The Autobiography of an Art Dealer (1999) and Henry Roland’s memoir Behind the Facade: Recollections of an Art Dealer (1991) are – alongside the obituaries of the three gallery founders and the exhibition catalogues – important sources for reconstructing the gallery’s activities, which have so far received little attention from researchers. Gustav Delbanco, however, appears in the emigration histories of other people. After the sudden death of the art historian Rosa Schapire (1874–1954), Delbanco was responsible for her estate. He carefully arranged for her collection of works by the expressionist Karl Schmidt-Rottluf to be sold to English, German, Israeli and other international museums. In an application for restitution, Delbanco testified to the difficult life and professional situation of the sculptor Jussuf Abbo (1890–1953), who was exiled in London (Zucker/Zuriel 1959).

    Word Count: 1090

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    19 Cork Street, Mayfair, London W1.

  • Signature Image:
    Sickert 1860–1942, exh. cat. Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London, 1960, cover (METROMOD Archive).
  • Media:
    Sickert 1860–1942, exh. cat. Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London, 1960, title page and p. 1 (METROMOD Archive).
    Sickert 1860–1942, exh. cat. Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London, 1960, pp. 4–5 (METROMOD Archive).
    Sickert 1860–1942, exh. cat. Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London, 1960, pp. 16–17, mentioning two books by Lillian Browse on Sickert (METROMOD Archive).
    Advertisement for the Sickert exhibition at Roland, Browse & Delbanco in 1946 in The Observer, 26 May 1946, p. 7 (Photo: Private Archive).
    Advertisement for the Rodin: Sculptures and Drawings exhibition at Roland, Browse & Delbanco in 1953 in The Manchester Guardian, 22 April 1953, p. 5 (Photo: Private Archive).
    Announcement for the Henry Moore. Drawings and Maquettes and Pajetta: Paintings exhibitions at Roland, Browse & Delbanco in 1957 in The Manchester Guardian, 14 October 1957, p. 5 (Photo: Private Archive).
    Announcement for the Philip Sutton. Recent Paintings and Margaret Kaye. Fabric Collages and Drawings exhibition, at Roland, Browse & Delbanco in 1960 in The Guardian, 27 June 1960, p. 7 (Photo: Private Archive).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Augustus John: Drawings. Faber & Faber, 1941.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Sickert. Faber & Faber, 1943.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Constantin Guys. Faber & Faber, 1946.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Barbara Hepworth. Sculptress. Faber & Faber, 1946.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Degas dancers. Faber & Faber, 1949.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. William Nicholson, with catalogue raisonné of the oil paintings. Rupert Hart-Davis, 1956.

    Browse, Lillian, editor. Sickert. Rupert Hart-Davis, 1960.

    Browse, Lillian. Duchess of Cork Street. The Autobiography of an art dealer. Giles de la Mare, 1999.

    Darby, William. “Obituary: Lilian Browse.” The Independent, 17 December 2005, www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/lillian-browse-519836.html. Accessed 14 April 2021.

    Delbanco, Gustav. Letter to Agnes Holthusen. Agnes Holthusen Papers (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Deutsches Kunstarchiv, Nuremberg, 24 February 1954).

    Delbanco, Gustav. “Obituary: Henry Roland” (9 January 1993). The Independent, 18 September 2011, www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-henry-roland-1477516.html. Accessed 14 April 2021.

    Farr, Dennis. “Obituary: Henry Roland” (9 January 1993). The Independent, 22 October 2011, www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-henry-roland-1477517.html. Accessed 14 April 2021.

    Farr, Dennis. “Empathy for Art and Artists; Lilian Browse, 1906–2005.” Newsletter of the Courtauld Institute of Art, no. 21, Spring 2006, https://web.archive.org/web/20131007045136/http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/newsletter/spring_2006/p04browse.shtml. Accessed 16 April 2021.

    Roland, Henry. Behind the Facade: Recollections of an Art Dealer. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1991.

    Stewart, Steven. “Obituary: Gustav Delbanco” (13 February 1997). The Independent, 23 October 2011, www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-gustav-delbanco-1278361.html. Accessed 25 January 2021. Accessed 16 April 2021.

    Summers, Cherith. “Roland, Browse and Delbanco.” Brave New Visions. The Émigrés who transformed the British Art World, exh. cat. Sotheby’s, St. George’s Gallery, London, 2019, p. 26. issuu, https://issuu.com/bravenewvisions/docs/brave_new_visions. Accessed 16 April 2021.

    Word Count: 256

  • Author:
    Burcu Dogramaci
  • Date of Founding:
    1945
  • Date of Disbandment:
    1977
  • Participants (selection):

    Lillian Browse, Gustav Delbanco, Henry Roland.

  • Metropolis:
    London
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "Roland, Browse & Delbanco." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/1470/object/5145-11259510, last modified: 20-06-2021.
  • Rosa Schapire
    Art Historian
    London

    The art historian Rosa Schapire, a supporter of Expressionist art, contributed to the presence of Expressionist art in England with loans and donations from her art collections rescued to London.

    Word Count: 30

    Jussuf Abbo
    SculptorGraphic Artist
    London

    The Berlin sculptor Jussuf Abbo emigrated together with his family to London in 1935, where he received a limited number of commissions and participated in a few group exhibitions.

    Word Count: 28

    Focus on Architecture and Sculpture
    Book
    London

    Focus on Architecture and Sculpture by émigré photographer Helmut Gernsheim brought together his work and experience as a photographer for the National Buildings Record (NBR).

    Word Count: 25

    Marlborough Fine Art
    Art Gallery
    London

    Marlborough Fine Art was founded in 1946 by the Viennese emigrants Harry Fischer and Frank Lloyd in the Mayfair district, focused on Impressionists, Modern and Contemporary Art.

    Word Count: 26

    The Warburg Institute
    Research Institute
    London

    The Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg in Hamburg achieved a new presence in London after 1933 under the name The Warburg Institute as a research institution with a library and photo archive.

    Word Count: 29

    Faber & Faber
    Publishing House
    London

    Faber & Faber shows the importance of publishing houses as supporters of contemporary art movements and of the contribution of emigrants, helping to popularise their art and artistic theories.

    Word Count: 29

    Ala Story
    GalleristCuratorArt CollectorMuseums Director
    London

    Originally from Vienna, Ala Story worked for galleries such as Redfern and Storran, opened the Stafford Gallery in 1938 and developed it into the British Art Centre.

    Word Count: 26

    20th Century German Art
    Exhibition
    London

    The 20th Century German Art exhibition of 1938 gave visibility to artists who had been defamed at the Munich exhibition Entartete Kunst and were persecuted by the National Socialist regime.

    Word Count: 29