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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Georg Ehrlich (1897–1966)

Sculptor. Ehrlich studied ornamental art with Franz Cisek at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule. In the years immediately after the First World War he worked as a graphic artist. In 1919 he moved to Munich, and then to Berlin in 1921, where, under contract to Paul Cassirer, he exhibited alongside Oscar Kokoschka, Ernst Barlach and Wilhelm Lehmbruck. In 1923 he returned to Vienna, and in 1926 took up sculpture, exhibiting in Vienna, Prague, Zurich, and at the pre-war Venice Biennales. Ehrlich came to England in 1937, and was naturalised in 1947. The etiolated forms and suffering air of his juvenile figures came to be seen as a reflection of the tragedy of war, though his style had developed under the influence of German and Austrian expressionism. Shortly after the end of the Second World War, in 1945, his figure of Pax was inaugurated in the Coventry Garden of Rest. In May 1947, Hertfordshire County Council acquired the bronze group, Two Sisters, for Essendon School. In 1950 Ehrlich had his first British one-man show, at the Leicester Galleries. He showed work at the Festival of Britain in 1951, and at the LCC’s open-air sculpture exhibitions. In 1969, his bronze group, The Young Lovers (1950/51), was acquired by the Corporation of the City of London for Festival Gardens, St Paul’s Churchyard. Ehrlich was diagnosed with a heart condition long before his death, and took to spending his summers in Grado in Italy for the good of his health. It was observed that his art grew more robust under the influence of these Mediterranean sojourns. Ehrlich became an animalier of great ability. His Nibbling Goat was acquired by the Arts Council. As a portraitist he was particularly successful in his depiction of other artistic personalities, such as Benjamin Britten (plaster, 1951, National Portrait Gallery, London) and Peter Pears (plaster, 1963, National Portrait Gallery, London). Ehrlich’s wife, Bettina, was an illustrator of children’s books.

Bibliography (updated 2024): D. Buckman, Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol, 2006; Mapping Sculpture; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 21–22, 335; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 239, 404; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Warwickshire, Coventry & Solihull, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 128–29; E. Tietze-Conrat (foreword by E. Newton), Georg Ehrlich, London, 1956; The Times: (i) 5 July 1966, p. 14, obit.; (ii) 15 July 1966, p. 16, letter from Sir Charles Wheeler; (iii) 29 July 1966, p. 14, ‘Tribute’ by Philip James; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. xxix, 386–87.

Philip Ward-Jackson, 2003