Painting of the South African Republic at Bonham’s

I. Stern. Swazi Girl. Oil on canvas. Estimate £250 000–350 000. The South African Sale. Bonham’s. London, September 10

Bonham’s London department largest sale of South African Art, 450 lots divided into two sales, one at Bonhams in Knightsbridge on September 9 and one in Bonhams in Bond Street on September 10 is expected to be one of the greatest in the history of the auction house or one of the most significant in the whole world. The lots are estimated in the range of ₤100 000–300 000 which are expected to set a new series of records.

In spite of the fact that there are a lot of works by many artists the most expensive lots are works by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886−1957) and Irma Stern (1894−1966). Irma Stern’s Swazi Girl is estimated at record £250 000–350 000. Stern is one of the authoritative painters of the South African Republic. She became famous during her lifetime. In the period of 1914-1920 she studied and worked in Germany where she was influenced with expressionism having put a mark on all her works. After her return in 1920s to Africa Irma Stern paid a lot of attention to study of the African continent. Its nature and people became the main plots of her work. The artist held over one hundred exhibitions in the South African Republic and in the European countries during her lifetime. Bonham’s sales will represent 38 works by Irma Stern. Many of lots are estimated to ₤300 000. Among them are Malay Lady in Green and Still Life with Ginger Jar and Mimosa. Each of them is estimated at
₤200 000–300 000.

Pierneef’s The Baobab Tree is also estimated at £300,000. This work is one of the most important artist’s works. The canvas displays a huge baobab at a deserted African landscape. The majestic baobab tree stands proud dominating the landscape, with the five people at the foot of the tree and the signs of human habitation in the background, dwarfed by comparison. The artist presented this painting to the South African High Commissioner to Britain in the 1930’s, Charles Waters, as a gift. The picture was exhibited at London’s Tate Gallery in an Overseas Exhibition of South African Art in 1948.

The auction features also works by Pieter Hugo Naudé (1869−1941) including Breede River at Witsand, St. Sebastian’s Bay. This splendid landscape is estimated at £6000–9000.

It is not occasional that Bonham’s put up such large collection for sales. There is seen a growth of interest for South African art in the recent years. Giles Peppiatt, Head of South African Art at Bonhams, said of his next sale: “We have had such a growth of interest that we have had to extend the sale to two days and two venues to allow us to exhibit the works as they deserve. We are seeing a maturing market for South African Art with a greater appreciation by non South African buyers. Increasingly the market is demanding the best but also paying greater and greater record prices. Artists like Irma Stern and Pierneef are receiving prices and critical recognition.”

Published in: on September 18, 2008 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment  

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