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Introduction to the HJD Collection

This online gallery of the original post-war paintings of German-American refugee Henry J. Dietrich (1908-2000) is provided exclusively to make available his many wonderful, even delightful, paintings and cartoons to individuals, students, art historians, and museums throughout the world.

Dietrich's mid-century work is best placed in the tradition of pre- and post- WorldBird with a fish painting War II European painting. Schooled in Berlin's Kunstschule Reimann before the war, Dietrich maintained these skills and approaches during his years in Shanghai as a German-Jewish refugee and, ultimately, to the United States and his first exhibitions at the M.H. de Young Museum. His late-century work departed both from these traditions and from other directions in European and American modern abstract painting. Drawing visual inspiration from and sharing the philosophical hallmarks of Henri Matisse, Dietrich's own artistic voice grew stronger, clearer, more dynamic, more sure, and more original in the last 30 years of life.

The older he became, the better a painter he became, with an amazing flowering of quantity and quality during the last 14 years of his life. These, as well as his earliest paintings, will appear gradually on this website. The location of approximately 80 percent of all Henry J. Dietrich paintings extant in the United States since 1947 is known, and a digital photographic archive and database is being constructed and maintained of his work, portions of which will be added to this website.

Ladies sitting paintingThe number of Dietrich paintings currently in private collections is small, due to the exclusivity of the artist and his early and continuing experience-based disdain for the market aspects of contemporary art. Sustaining himself for many years by relying on his more commercial skills in illustrationand cartoon, he kept many paintings to himself and for himself, sharing them only reluctantly with those friends who were both collectors and admirers. The older he became, the better a painter he became, with an amazing flowering of quantity and quality during the last 14 years of his life. These, as well as his earliest paintings, are now slowly becoming available through this online collection.

Thomas D. Lonner, Ph.D. is responsible for constructing, maintaining, extending,Flowers with Insects painting and making the Collection available online. The son of Austrian refugees in San Francisco, professionals in live dramatic and comedic theater and portrait photography, he is former Director of the Alaska State Museums where he excelled in exhibition design. A long-standing friend of Henry J. Dietrich, he welcomed the labor of love, following Dietrich's death, to bring these paintings to public notice and appreciation.

Inquires about Henry J. Dietrich, his paintings, and other works not appearing online may be made by writing to Thomas D. Lonner (lonner_ward@msn.com) or calling 206-780-0956 (United States). Similarly, since this is a research site with the ultimate objective of producing a definitive catalogue and biography, we welcome all photographs, reviews, images, and other documents or recollections relating to the artist and/or his art.

Should you have any doubt or concern about the authenticity of a Henry J. Dietrich painting, drawing, print, poster, or cartoon, please contact the Dietrich Collection for assistance. With the exception of museum and gallery exhibition posters, all Henry J. Dietrich paintings and drawings are original and one-of-a-kind. Their authenticity is established through his signature, placement against other paintings, sketchbooks, preliminary versions, and exhibition and domestic photographs.