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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee