Jankel Adler was a Polish painter and printmaker, originally from Lodz. He had shared a studio with Paul Klee in Dusseldorf in the early 1930s and was a well-known figure in artistic circles across Europe. With the Nazi rise to power, Adler fled the country in 1933. In Germany, his work became labelled ‘degenerate’, a term used to describe modern art. When war broke out in 1939, he volunteered for the Polish Army in France and in 1940 he was evacuated to Scotland.

He first encountered the artists Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde in Glasgow after being discharged from the army in 1941. In 1943, he took a studio in the same apartment block as The Roberts at Bedford Gardens in London. Adler was an artist who was taxed with standing midway between Picasso and Klee; ‘a very good place to be’. The Roberts admired Adler and his work; he was a sophisticated painter with a direct link to European art. They often referred to him as ‘the master’, and in his work they recognised a compassionate painter who created a form of expression that was both intensely human and universal.