Ben Uri appeals for missing paintings

By Leon Symons, September 28, 2010
‘Jerusalem, Mea Shearim, 1960’

‘Jerusalem, Mea Shearim, 1960’

Anglo-Jewry's leading art gallery has launched an appeal to find dozens of paintings by the distinguished Czech-born artist Ludwig Blum.

Next January the Ben Uri Gallery in St John's Wood is presenting the first British retrospective of Blum's work in more than 70 years, curated by Israeli scholar and historian Dalia Manor.

But many of the paintings shown at four exhibitions in London in the 1930s - including the Ben Uri - have not been seen since.

Blum emigrated to Israel in 1923. He lost his son, Elie, aged 20, in the Palmach operation Night of the Bridges in 1946. Two years later, aged 57, Blum volunteered to serve in the Civil Guard during the War of Independence. He continued working in Israel and, most importantly for future generations, painted across the country. He was in many ways Israel's first war artist.

He died in 1974 and his paintings sell now for six-figure sums.

The artworks could be hanging in people’s homes

Ben Uri chair David Glasser said: "We are bringing 40 Blum works from Israel and around the world to the exhibition.

"We know from our research that many of his paintings were exhibited in London in 1933 at the Wertheim gallery, in 1935 at the Ben Uri and the Royal Academy, and at the Fine Art Society in 1938. But no-one seems to know where they are now. We believe as many as 50 paintings could be hanging in people's homes. It would be wonderful if we could find any of them to augment the exhibition."

Suzanne Lewis, Ben Uri's director, said: "The children or grandchildren of the original purchasers from the four exhibitions will still be enjoying these works in their homes without realising who the artist is or how rare these works are.

"We need to discover where these early missing works are not just for our exhibition but also to complete the archive of this distinguished artist."

Last updated: 1:08pm, September 28 2010