Obituary: Henry Roland

Heinrich Rosenbaum (Henry Roland), art dealer, born Munich 31 December 1907, married 1932 Joyce Coe (one son; marriage dissolved), Lilian Haitan (died 1984; one adopted son), died Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany 4 January 1993.

HENRY ROLAND was one of the partners of the greatly respected firm of London art dealers Roland, Browse and Delbanco.

In 1988, Roland circulated among his friends a privately printed memoir, Behind the Facade: recollections of an art dealer (published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 1991), which admirably conveys his zest for life and mischievous good humour. The son of a doctor, he was born Heinrich Rosenbaum in Munich and studied art history at the universities of Berlin, Paris and Munich, where he obtained his doctorate in 1928. He had early decided on an art- dealer's career, encouraged by his dealer grandfather, and obtained a job with a private dealer in Berlin. But the American depression badly hit the German art market and Rosenbaum came to London late in 1929.

Here he met Gustav Delbanco and went into partnership with him, operating at first from a boarding-house bedroom until they had made enough money to rent an office in Piccadilly. He became a naturalised British subject in 1935 and changed his name to Henry Roland, although he was always known to friends as Heinz. At first, Delbanco and he specialised in Old Master paintings and drawings, and one of their greatest coups occurred during the war. Although a Senior Air Raid Warden, Roland had free time in which to visit the salerooms, and one day in 1942 he and Delbanco spotted an Entombment attributed to Isenbrandt, but which they believed to be much earlier and by a considerably more distinguished artist, Robert Campin (The Master of Flemalle). They formed a consortium of refugee German dealers - Arthur Kauffmann, Franz Drey and Alfred Scharf (jokingly called the Fondaco die Tedeschi) - and bought the painting for pounds 5,888. After the National Gallery had refused to buy it, Count Seilern bought it for pounds 16,000 and today it has an honoured place in the Courtauld Galleries.

This was only one spectacular instance of Roland's sharp-eyed recognition of quality, and his memoir abounds in stories of good things cheaply acquired and sold for a handsome profit. There were failures, too; but Roland became best known for his support of contemporary art, and in March 1945 he and Delbanco were joined by Lillian Browse in establishing the firm which bore their names until September 1977, when the lease of their Cork Street premises expired and they closed down. Lillian Browse continued to deal in partnership with William Darby, as Browse and Darby, for some years longer.

It was an extraordinary triumvirate: three very different personalities, yet each of them able to promote painters and sculptors in whom they passionately believed so as to create a recognisable gallery ethos that might be summed up as quality and 'belle peinture'. Roland supported artists as diverse as Josef Herman, Matthew Smith, Henry Moore, Victor Pasmore, Graham Sutherland and Philip Sutton. He rediscovered the Irish fauve Roderic O'Conor. His private collection reflected his particular interests, and contained superb examples of sculpture by Moore, Maillol and Rodin, Surrealist paintings by Max Ernst, as well as the intimistes Bonnard and Vuillard. German art was also strongly represented: Heckel, Nolde, Macke, Feininger and Schmidt- Rottluff.

Under medium height and, in later years, verging on the rotund, Roland exuded a quiet warmth and twinkling sense of fund. He could be serious enough when discussing an artist's work, but never pompous. He was twice married, first to Joyce Coe in 1932, by whom he had a son, Anthony. After an amicable divorce, he married Lilian Haitan, a former Bauhaus student; she died in 1984. They were a most cultivated, hospitable household, and her death caused him great distress. He adopted Lilian's nephew, Henry Hartley, after the war.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview