Julie Held studied at the Camberwell School of Art followed by the Royal Academy Schools, graduating in 1985. Held’s first solo exhibition took place at The City Library in Leipzig in 1998. Held has since exhibited her work extensively in Leipzig and London, in galleries including the Boundary Gallery, the Ben Uri Gallery, Mercer Chance Gallery and Galerie Sud. The artist’s portraits of her father were featured at the BP Portrait Award in 2013. Held’s work is held in multiple public collections, including those of the St Ives Society, the Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, Staffordshire County Council, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Usher Gallery and Nuffield College, Oxford University. Held’s Self-Portrait was acquired by Ruth Borchard Collection in 2011. Held is a member of the New English Art Club, the London Group and the Royal Watercolour Society.
While Held’s body of work includes both landscapes and portraits, her significant affinity for portraiture is evident from her career. Held began painting portraits as a student at Camberwell College of Art and has since painted numerous portraits, using them to both celebrate and commemorate her loved ones. Key themes of Held’s work are Judaism, imagination and re-imagination. Held cites her main influences as Titian, Rembrandt and hails Matisse as the love of her life.
Held’s self-portrait in oil on canvas shows the artist emerging from a deep blue background, gesturing towards a bouquet of flowers before her with a single delicate finger, capturing a sense of wonder amidst darkness.