Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bernard Greenbaum

Updated 27 December 2006

Thanks to Rufus Greenbaum, I have been able to fill in a lot of gaps where Bernard Greenbaum is concerned. Beforehand, the little I knew could be pretty much summed up in one sentence: that he contributed to Swift Annual 1 (1954) and was also a contributor to Girl Annual and drew the strip 'Sweet Sue' in Radio Fun (1959).

Bernard David Greenbaum was born in Brighton on 10 February 1917, the son of Solomon Greenbaum and his wife Edith (nee Etherington), the third of four children, all of whom went on to have creative careers (Hyam as the founding conductor of the BBC Television Orchestra, Alec as a tailor and Kyla as a concert pianist and professor of music at the Royal Academy of Music). Bernard studied the violin but was persuaded by his older brother that he "would never progress beyond the front row of the violins," and should instead concentrate on his talents as an artist.

Bernard studied in Paris under Bernard Meninsky and worked for New Musical Express in the 1930s, doing line drawings of famous musicians of the day as part of a weekly interview feature. Called up in 1940, he served with the 8th Army in North Africa and was with the forces that invaded Sicily. Returning from service, he began studying design and working again in Fleet Street, commuting from his home in Brighton each day.

He married Beatrice Harris in October 1940 and had a son (born 1941) and daughter (born 1946), and moved his young family to Hendon in 1949 where he lived at 14 Chatsworth Avenue, N.W.4 until the late 1960s before moving to a flat in Southampton Row. Working from home, he produced a mixture of advertising artwork, general commercial work and comic strips.

One of his earliest strips was the feature 'Girls Round the World' for Girl, a half-page strip about girls from different countries which he researched and drew. The bulk of his comic work, however, was for D. C. Thomson, for whom he produced 4 pages a week. According to Rufus, "My sister and I were often asked to pose for him so that he could draw the lines of our arms or folds of our sleeves more accurately."

Bernard Greenbaum and his wife emigrated to Safed, Israel, in December 1973 where he took up watercolour painting. Known in Israel as Baruch Greenbaum, he produced around 10 paintings a month which he sold through his own gallery, although in later years they were sold through three or four of the better known art galleries in Israel. He exhibited in Italy, America and Israel and prints of his work -- particularly those featuring landscapes of the Judean HIlls and street life in Jerusalem -- are still available (e.g. here).

Baruch Greenbaum died on 16 November 1993, having produced some 2,000 original paintings which, says Rufus, "have scattered to the far corners of the globe and seem to give much pleasure every day to their owners."

Illustrated Books
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss, retold. London, Collins Clear-Type Press, 1962.


  1. Do you have any idea what original baruch greenbaum paintings are worth? I have three from the jewish quarter.

  2. I'll have to leave that to someone who knows about these things. I haven't a clue.



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