History of the
Hoffnung Drawings

The Hoffnung collection is a virtually complete record of the life of an exceptionally gifted artist and humorist from the age of 5 years until his death 29 years later. It consists of approximately 1,500 drawings and paintings and a fascinating assemblage of memorabilia. Also included are a number of musical instruments including a series of six magnificent brass instruments based on Hoffnung cartoons and made by the Yamaha Corporation of Japan to commemorate its touring of the exhibition and concerts around Japan in 1992.

Hoffnung was almost as gifted a musician as he was an artist, his true passion being for the brass instruments of the orchestra; this led him one day to purchase a bass tuba which, with serious dedication, he set about learning to play. He was 25 at the time and, after two or three years and many hours of practice, he found himself ensconced amidst the brass section of the Morley College Orchestra as their bass tuba player. From this vantage point at the rear of the orchestra his perceptive eye was free to focus, with affection and critical amusement, on the foibles and idiosyncrasies of his fellow performers.

This new experience further stimulated his imagination and love of music and musicians and inspired the many hundreds of musical cartoons produced during the final years of his short life.

Notwithstanding his wealth of talents (Hoffnung was also a talented broadcaster and raconteur whose gentle wit and humour on radio and television delighted a large audience) he regarded his profession first and foremost to be that of an artist. His drawings testify to his humour, creativity, inventiveness and artistry while, at the same time, reflecting the warmth and breadth of his humanity and joy in life.

In 1948 he exhibited, alongside Ronald Searle, Nicholas Bentley and others at The Little Gallery in Piccadilly, one of the rare occasions when his original drawings have been for sale. There was no indication during the remainder of his busy life that the thought of exhibiting his original drawings was on Hoffnung’s agenda.

At his memorial concert, held at the Royal Festival Hall in 1960, a small exhibition was mounted to accompany the occasion and a similar showing of his drawings followed in Hongkong in 1962. It was not until 1965 (seven years after his death) that the first major exhibition of Hoffnung’s original drawings was held at the Berlin Festival. This proved a significant success and a glimpse of what was to come. Exhibitions in New York and Rotterdam, at the Brighton and Edinburgh Festivals and in the main foyer of the Royal Festival Hall followed in rapid succession.

In retrospect it seems difficult to believe that the drawings were sent away unframed to these venues and then framed on their arrival. After a few of these events, it was realised that so much man-handling could not continue without the original artwork suffering deterioration. Thus it was with miraculous timing and generosity that the Welsh Arts Council came to the rescue with an offer to mount, frame, and crate approximately 450 drawings and paintings; in return they proposed to tour the exhibition around Wales for six months in 1969. Needless to say, their offer was most gratefully accepted. In the early 2000s, after a further thirty years of touring, the Chris Beetles Gallery kindly and generously undertook the job of reframing all 450 of the works.

Of the remaining 1,050 drawings now in the complete collection, 875 were, in fact, his childhood drawings. As a very young boy, Hoffnung showed a remarkable talent and enthusiasm for drawing and it was thanks to the foresight of his devoted mother that she dated and kept what must be the major part of his output from the age of 5 to 18 years. Only the fourteenth year lacks any drawings. This was the year that, accompanied by his mother, he reached London as a German Jewish refugee and was attending school as a temporary boarder, events which may explain this curious gap in the collection.

In 1975 his childhood drawings came to the notice of Dr Sheila Paine, who was later to become a lecturer at London University’s Institute of Education. It was her enthusiasm and dedication that led to the Institute’s decision in 1976 to form an exhibition of 220 selected drawings. This collection, entitled Young Hoffnung, was mounted and framed by the Institute. The new collection was a superb adjunct to the adult Hoffnung drawings and their launch together at London University was an exciting event.

On a few occasions Young Hoffnung has appeared alone but, under the title Irrepressible Hoffnung, the combined exhibition has provided an even more absorbing and fascinating experience; here you have a unique record of one man’s life-work. It has proved worthy of the accolades awarded to it; as the Independent on Sunday once wrote: ‘Hoffnung’s unique position as jester to the court of serious music is unassailable and ensures his lasting fame.’

Exhibition Reviews


‘The most moving must surely be the childhood drawings created in a school for non-Aryans in post-1933 Berlin. In these the terror of those times is portrayed by means of nocturnal ghosts and demonic figures.’
Der Tagesspiegel (Heinz Ohff), 16 September 1964

‘His humour was geneticist. He crossed the musical instruments with which he loved to busy himself and out of them bred a Book of Beasts which does not bite. It purrs, croaks, grouses and hoots. It tickles the ear and last but not least it make us laugh.’
Die Welt (Klaus Geitel), September 1964


‘Brighton College of Art annexe in Grand-Parade is the setting for a riotously brilliant exhibition of some 200 works by Hoffnung, the artist whose sense of the ludicrous has enveloped many subjects – primarily music – with a wealth of appreciative laughter throughout the world… His brilliance is at once apparent and undeniable, and Brighton has been most fortunate to get this enlivening collection as one of the brighter jewels in its Festival coronet.’
Brighton and Hove Herald, April 1968

‘Gerard Hoffnung died 9 years ago, but the reputation of this much-loved, roly-poly, artist, musician looms bigger and better all the time. There’s an exhibition on show at Brighton.’
The Times, May 1968

‘For his work, like all the greatest works of art, literary and otherwise, teaches something. The traits of perception, humour coupled with kindliness, inventiveness, a sense of proportion and above all, a delight in life, are traits common to Hoffnung himself and his work.’
Wine Press, May 1968

‘Incredibly, the cult of Hoffnung rides high, nine years after his death and this year looks like being a vintage one for all admirers of the comic artist, raconteur and instrumentalist extraordinaire… Today Dame Edith Evans opens the retrospective exhibition of some 200 drawings, which are going on show at the Brighton College of Art as part of the Brighton Festival.’
Hampstead & Highgate Express, April 1968


‘The exhibition shows one side of his legacy to the world, a treasure of subtle drawings, stuffed with a brilliant sense of humour.’
(Eugene Eberle), May 1968


‘Never before at an Edinburgh exhibition can so many visitors have been heard giving way to uninhibited laughter as the crowds filing through the Hoffnung exhibition. There is the familiar fabulous cast… In all, this exhibition is guaranteed to keep you happy for as long as you have time to spare.’
The Guardian, August 1968

‘Nothing can be more certain than everyone’s enormous delight at the Festival exhibition so deservedly devoted to the endearing illustrations of that gentle and fantasticlo of draughtsmen, Gerard Hoffnung. At the English Speaking Union Gallery there are 416 original drawings, the verve of whose witty and often surreal inventions is matched by a skilled linear simplification that demands their appraisal in the terms of fine art… No one should miss paying homage to this warm and sadly missed genius, but it will hardly be a solemn occasion and should be done at leisure, for here is detail enough for a lifetime of merriment.’
The Scotsman (Edward Gage), August 1968

‘… and a gloriously prodigal outpouring of endearing eccentricities in the drawings of the late Gerard Hoffnung (at the English Speaking Union Gallery).’
The Guardian (Cordelia Oliver), August 1968

‘The light-hearted magic of Gerard Hoffnung at the English Speaking Union Gallery, rounds off what looks like a surprisingly good year.’
The Scotsman (Edward Gage), September 1968

‘For lighter relief one should make for the English-Speaking Union Gallery in Atholl Crescent, where Gerard Hoffnung’s deliciously-witty drawings are on show. A cartoonist and musician who magnificently took the mickey out of music and the ingenious instruments that make it. Hoffnung struck a solitary path and won considerable acclaim.’
The Scotsman, August 1968

‘At the Festival’s happiest exhibition, visitors wandered around, pointing, chortling, and often hooting with laughter.’
Daily Mirror (David Clemens), August 1968

‘It needs no eye to the lens of a cor anglais to see in this kindly man a galaxy of many splendid talents .’
The Evening News & Dispatch (Felix McCullough), August 1968

‘The Hoffnung exhibition, a splendid morale-booster, provoking delighted, audible laughter from its viewers, celebrates the coiling linear vivacity with which Hoffnung tweaked the noses of histrionic conductors and harassed instrumentalists and devised multipurpose instruments.’
South Wales Argus (Frank Dibb), August 1968


‘It was a joy to see the extensive exhibition of Gerard Hoffnung’s drawings and paintings presented by the GLC at the Festival Hall. It was a bigger show than those mounted last year in Brighton and Edinburgh, and included childhood drawings as well as the familiar sketches in which, as Ernest Bean remarked in opening the exhibition, Hoffnung’s benign mockery added a new dimension to the art of caricature.’
Music & Musicians, March 1969


‘Gerard Hoffnung’s genius flared like a comet for the brief span of 34 years… His main interests were music and art, highlighted by an off-beat sense of humour and the skill to produce a drawing as brilliant in craftsmanship as it was in buffoonery. The results delighted many millions of people before his death in 1959, and still continue to do so’
(Source unknown), 1969


‘“FUNNY DRAWINGS” are poor words to describe the late Gerard Hoffnung’s work, but then he was so good at taking the mickey out of anything pompous, like ‘poetic fantasy.’ So people laugh at this exhibition or smile or chuckle. And Hoffnung’s accuracy in observing the essentials of character is half the joke. The other half is his ingenious imagination, visualising the unexpected.’
The Guardian (Myfanwy Kitchin), September 1969

‘It takes a lot to make me laugh… But laugh – from a raucous guffaw – I did when I saw the Hoffnung drawings that the Midland Institute are exhibiting as their contribution to that fortnight. Hoffnung’s art is very special. It combines superb skill in draughtsmanship with wit and humour that are constantly changing in tone and colour. I suppose it is a very, very human sort of art. And I like it for that.’
Birmingham Evening Mail (Peter Cox), September 1969


‘At the Welsh Art Council’s gallery Cardiff, an exhibition of the works of the brilliant comic artist, Gerard Hoffnung.’
(Source unknown), April 1970


‘There are two things which distinguish a great humorist from the lesser exponents of the art. The first is that his work survives the passing of times and fashions; the second, that his humour is harmless, not malicious. Hoffnung’s drawings are great.’
Hampstead & Highgate Express, 1971

‘The late Gerard Hoffnung left Hornsey School of Art in a hurry – for laughing at the suggestion that he should draw classical nudes. If he had taken the nudes seriously he might never have released his impetuous genius in such a warmly satirical way, and our great orchestras might have played on without learning to laugh at themselves… His bizarrely interchangeable musicians and instruments can be seen at the Central Library, Swiss Cottage until1 May, where a large collection of his inimitable cartoons are on show for the Camden Festival… Even at his most extravagant, his subtlety never slips Look long at each picture – it is unique of its kind.’
(Source unknown), April 1971


‘The very special quality of Gerard Hoffnung’s genius as a draughtsman lay in the fact that he was able to combine two sorts of wit in his drawings… not only graphic wit, but musical wit. …I defy anyone to study the exhibition in the Sun Lounge at Fairfield this week and not hear, in his mental ear, a great diversity of orchestral booms and blasts and tintinnabulations as his gaze passes from one drawing to the next. …His ideas were seemingly limitless. He never flagged and he never flogged a theme to death. His draughtsmanship was superb and his drawings, however complicated, are never difficult to read. Also, although his fantasy was so unbridled and his distortion so extravagant, he never did a vulgar drawing.’
Croydon Administrator, April 1971


‘… drawings of the highest quality, displaying a very personal sense of humour… They will make not only music lovers laugh, but everyone – grown ups and children alike.’
Le Monde, May 1974

‘A great cartoonist.’
Noelobservateur, June 1974


‘Instead of the usual bland or quizzical looks one so often sees at art exhibitions there was a tingle of laughter at the opening of the Harrogate Festival on Saturday night. The venue was the Spa’s modest Art Gallery and the visual appeal was provided by the brilliant musical cartoons of Gerard Hoffnung who died in 1959 at the age of 34.’
Yorkshire Post (Michael Colbert), August 1974

‘His eye was whimsical and avuncular and one feels that the target of his satire was more apt to respond with a yell of laughter than with a hurt silence. And the craftsmanship and detail in these originals, nearly all drawn only slightly larger than they appeared in print, is incredible. He was irreplaceable. …A happy, warm exhibition and one to be warmly recommended.’
(Source unknown), August 1974

‘Music was a source both of delight and of endless fun to Hoffnung, and there could be no happier visual accompaniment to the Harrogate Festival than this exhibition of 400 of his drawings and paintings. His is the kind of humour that makes people laugh out loud. … This show reminds us how much the world of music lost by Hoffnung’s untimely death… but what a legacy of laughter he left us! It is here to savour.’
(Source unknown), August 1974


‘He was a gifted musician as well as a brilliantly funny man with his pen.’
Daily Telegraph, March 1976

(including the first showing of the Young Hoffnung Exhibition)

‘…an unimaginably rich example of the development of a child’s mind, skill and imagination… Outstanding exhibition’
Sunday Times, May 1978

‘The themes for which Hoffnung later became famous – the interplay between musical instruments and their players, the merging of forms and the genial, good-natured observation of human nature are all there in embryo from an early age’
The Times Educational Supplement (Owen Surridge), May 1978

‘Few artists can boast such a complete record of their development’
Evening Standard, June 1978

‘A remarkable exhibition. … Two hundred of his drawings, mostly saved and dated by his mother, formidably unfold the keen humour which was fast to emerge.’
(Source unknown), June 1978


‘Two hundred and fifty cartoons by Gerard Hoffnung at the Ulster Museum are attracting children as well as adults… The exhibition has a most wonderful innocence about it, completely without malice.’
Belfast Newsletter, November 1981


‘It is a remarkable show, not to be missed by music lovers and caricature adepts… Gerard Hoffnung, the man who either invites you to smile or pushes you into laughter.’
Brabants Dagblad, June 1885


‘… and for all those who cherish humour in their lives, this is an exhibition which should not on any account be missed.’
Richmond & Twickenham Times, August 1991

(including the Young Hoffnung Exhibition)

‘These early examples of Hoffnung’s competence with pencil, pen and paintbrush are not to be missed, wherever and whenever they may be on display.’
Cartoon Art News (Ann McMullan), January 1995

Exhibition Venues

Royal Festival Hall, London, England, 1961

City Hall Museum and Art Gallery, Hong Kong, 1962

Berlin Festival, Germany, 1964

Lincoln Center, New York, USA, 1967

Brighton Festival, Sussex, England, 1968

Holland Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 1968

Edinburgh Festival, Scotland, 1968

Royal Festival Hall, London, England, 1969

Welsh Arts Council Gallery, Cardiff, Wales, 1969

Dunfermline & Carnegie Trust, Scotland, 1969

Birmingham and Midland Institute, West Midlands, England, 1969

Cardiff; Conway; Bangor; Aberystwyth; Cwmbrau, Wales, 1970

Durham Light Infantry Museum and Arts Centre, County Durham, England, 1970

Bishop’s Stortford Festival, Hertfordshire, England, 1971

Stroud Festival, Gloucester, England, 1971

Selfridges Art Gallery, London, England, 1971

Camden Festival, Swiss Cottage Library, London, England, 1971

University of Essex Gallery, Colchester, Essex, England, 1972

Croydon Festival, Fairfield Halls, London, England, 1973

Bibliothèque Beaugrenelle, Paris, France, 1974

Battersea Town Hall, London, England, 1974

Middlesborough Art Gallery, Cleveland, England, 1974

Harrogate Festival, Yorkshire, England, 1974

Monkton Combe School, Avon, England, 1975

St Albans International Organ Festival, Hertfordshire, England, 1975

Cheltenham Festival, Gloucestershire, England, 1975

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, 1976

Macclesfield Arts Festival, Cheshire, England, 1976

Newcastle upon Tyne Festival, Tyne and Wear, England, 1976

University of London Institute of Education (including the Young Hoffnung exhibition), London, England, 1978

The Graves Gallery (including the Young Hoffnung exhibition), Sheffield, England, 1978

Hoffnung print exhibition, Sydney Opera House, Australia, 1978

Harrogate Festival (including the Young Hoffnung exhibition), Yorkshire, England, 1979

Perth Festival, Scotland, 1979

National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland, 1981

Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1981

A collection of Hoffnung drawings reproduced in the form of an exhibition of reproductions, was designed by the British Council and toured the world for seven years. The countries visited included Yugoslavia, Romania, Switzerland, Hungary, Turkey, Spain, India, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and the USA, 1981

Rasmus Meyer Art Gallery, Bergen, Norway, 1981

Camden Arts Centre (including the Young Hoffnung exhibition), London, England, 1982

The Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, Lancashire, England, 1982

Manchester Organ Festival, Lancashire, England, 1982

Brighton Polytechnic (including the Young Hoffnung exhibition), Brighton and Hove, England, 1982

Royal Festival Hall Main Foyer (including the Young Hoffnung exhibition), London, England, 1983

Burgh House, Hampstead, London, England, 1986

Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, 1989

Japanese Tour (including Tokyo and Yokohama), 1992

Ludlow 1993, Cardiff, Wales, 1993

Thun Swiss Bank Corporation (British Council Exhibition), Switzerland, 1993–94

Orleans House Gallery (including the Young Hoffnung exhibition), Twickenham, London, England, 1994–95

Burton Art Gallery, Bideford, Devon, England, 1995

National Museum of Cartoon Art, London, England, 2000

The Lewes Festival, Sussex, England, 2002

Frome Festival, Somerset, England, 2005

Cheltenham Festival, Gloucestershire, England, 2009

Chris Beetles Gallery, London, England, 2012


The Right Playmate
(Text by James Broughton)

Rupert Hart Davis, London, England, 1951

Farrar Strauss and Young, New York, USA, 1951


Dobson Books (14 editions), London, England, 1953

Langen Müller Verlag, Munich, Germany, 1957

Mills Music, Inc., New York, USA, 1958

Souvenir Press, London, England, 1983

The Hoffnung Partnership, London, England, 2000


Weidenfeld & Nicolson (Points for Parents), London, England, 1954

Dobson Books, London, England, 1961

Langen Müller Verlag (Hoffnung’s Sprosslinge), Munich, Germany, 1964

Souvenir Press, London, England, 1988

The Hoffnung Partnership, London, England, 2001

(Illustrations to poems by Percy Cudlip)

Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, England, 1955


Dobson Books, London, England, 1955

Langen Müller Verlag (Das Symphonic Orkest), Munich, Germany, 1957

Mills Music, Inc., New York, USA, 1958

Zomer and Keuning (Het Hoffnung Symfonie-Orkest), Netherlands, 1969

Souvenir Press, London, England, 1983

Riverrun Press, New York, USA, 1984

The Hoffnung Partnership, London, England, 2000

(Illustrations to John Symond’s text)

T. Werner Laurie Ltd., London, England, 1955

Dobson Books, London, England, 1963

Scolar Press, London, England, 1979


Dobson Books (11 editions), London, England, 1956

Mills Music, Inc., New York, USA, 1958

Langen Müller Verlag, Munich, Germany, 1960

Souvenir Press, London, England, 1983

Riverrun Press, New York, USA, 1984


Dobson Books, London, England, 1957

Putnams (10 editions), London, England, 1957

Langen Müller Verlag (Music von A–Z), Munich, Germany, 1961

Dover Books, New York, USA, 1971

Souvenir Press, London, England, 1983

The Hoffnung Partnership, London, England, 2000


Dobson Books, London, England, 1958

Putnams, London, England, 1958

Langen Müller Verlag (Hoffnung’s Intermezzo), Munich, Germany, 1962

Souvenir Press, London, England, 1983

The Hoffnung Partnership, London, England, 2000


Putnams, London, England, 1959

The Hoffnung Partnership, London, England, 2002

Harper and Row, New York, USA, 1959 Dobson Books (Harlequinade), London, England, 1979


Putnams, London, England, 1959

Diogenes Verlag (HOFFNUNGSLOS), Switzerland, 1959

Harper and Row, New York, USA, 1962


Dobson Books, London, England, 1959

Putnams, London, England, 1959

Langen Müller Verlag (Hoffnung’s Klange), Munich, Germany, 1961

Souvenir Press, London, England, 1983

The Hoffnung Partnership, London, England, 2000


Putnams, London, England, 1960


Dobson Books, London, England, 1960

Langen Müller Verlag (Vogel Bienen Klapperstorche), Munich, Germany, 1962

Zomer and Keuning (Van Blocmcn Bijen en Ooicvaars), Netherlands, 1969

Dover Books, NewYork, USA, 1971


Dobson Books, London, England, 1962

(Illustrations to Ravel’s opera with text by Collette, translated into English by Christopher Fry)

Dobson Books, London, England, 1964


Dobson Books, London, England, 1968


Souvenir Press, London, England, 1984


Penguin Press, London, England, 1963


Supraphon, Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1971


Langen Müller Verlag, Munich, Germany, 1988


Langen Müller Verlag, Munich, Germany, 1978


Langen Müller Verlag, Munich, Germany, 1983


Langen Müller Verlag, Munich, Germany, 1984


Academia Music Ltd., Japan, 1988



The Hoffnung Music Festival Concert (12 pressings), Columbia, England, 1956

The Hoffnung Interplanetary Music Festival (14 pressings), World Record Club, England, 1958

Hoffnung at the Oxford Union (7 pressings), Decca, England, 1960

The Hoffnung Astronautical Music Festival (8 pressings), World Record Club, England, 1961

Lieben Sie Klassik? Ein Festival Für Kenner Mit Werken Von Tschaikowzart, Van Beethaydn, Gershmaninoff, Chophoven Und Anderen Meistern, Columbia, Germany, 1962

The Importance of Being Hoffnung, (4 pressings), BBC Radio Enterprises, England, 1968

Timeless Hoffnung (2 pressings), BBC Records, England, 1970

Festival Hoffnung (2 pressings), Harmonia Mundi, France, 1972

Hoffnung (4 pressings), BBC Records, England, 1973

Hoffnung’s Music Festivals (7 pressings), His Master’s Voice, England, 1974

The Best of Hoffnung, Angel Records, England, 1974

Hoffnung Festival, Harmonia Mundi, France, 1987

The Hoffnung Festival of Music, England, 1988

Hoffnung’s Music Festivals, England, 1989

Hoffnung, (4 pressings), Hör Zu Black Label, Germany, (date unknown)

Hoffnung Festival 3, Harmonia Mundi, France, (date unknown)

The Hoffnung Music Festival Concert, Angel Records, England, (date unknown)


The Sound Of Hoffnung, Columbia, England, 1958

Hoffnung At The Oxford Union, Decca, England, 1968


The Hoffnung Music Festival Concert, Royal Festival Hall, England, 13 November 1956

Hoffnung Festival II, Harmonia Mundi, France, 1970

The Best Of Gerard Hoffnung, Angel Records, England, 1974

Hoffnung’s Music Festivals, Angel Records, England, 1977

Hoffnung’s Music Festival Vol. 3, Angel Records, England, 1978

The Hoffnung Collection, HMV EASY, England, 2000

Hoffnung: A Last Encore, BBC, England, 2002

Hoffnung at Large, BBC Audio, England, 2006

Hoffnung, Forum, England, 2011