Rare Namibian works on offer as part of Cape sale
• Works in Strack collection include oil paintings by Jentsch and Krampe
Strauss & Co, a leading auction house in SA, is presenting 20 works in various media from the Namibia-based collection of the late Peter and Regina Strack.
The sale, which includes three rare Adolph Jentsch oils and a major Fritz Krampe oil, will be offered in a dedicated segment at the auction house’s forthcoming sale in Cape Town on October 15.
German-born Peter Strack immigrated to Namibia in 1950 and was a partner in the architectural firm Stauch & Partners.
He began honing his skills as an artist and collector under the tutelage of painter Adolph Jentsch. The collection that he assembled with his wife, Regina, is striking due to its focus on earlier 20th-century Namibian artists such as Jentsch and Krampe, as well as Axel Eriksson and Carl Ossmann.
Dresden-born Jentsch, who moved to Namibia in 1938, is a key figure in the art history of his adopted country. His masterful landscapes are imbued with a spiritual calm. Jentsch’s work has been a fixture at auctions there and in SA.
In November 2017, Strauss & Co sold an oil on canvas from 1940 painted near the Swakop River for R1.6m.
Collectors hold Jentsch’s oils in high esteem, in part due to their rarity. In 1975, a disastrous fire at a farm owned by Gebhard and Dorothee von Funcke, where the artist stored many of his prized works, destroyed much of his output, which the artist only reluctantly traded.
The Strack collection includes three oils, one of which,
Schafrivier (estimated value R500,000-R700,000), had been bequeathed by Dorothee von Funcke to the Stracks.
Painted in Jentsch’s muted colour palette, the work depicts the Schaf River near Windhoek.
“This serene work highlights the importance of quality and provenance as the cornerstone of building a successful collection,” says Kirsty Colledge, a senior art specialist at Strauss & Co who handled the consignment of the Strack collection.
The other oil works being offered on auction are Vlei on
Farm Teufelsbach (estimate R600,000-R800,000), an unusually verdant view of the Otjihavera River, and Ibenstein,
SW Afrika (estimate R600, 000–R700,000), a masterfully achieved night scene in gray that was purchased from the artist’s estate by Peter Strack in 1983.
The Strack consignment includes a Jentsch acrylic Schafrivier Ufer (estimate R200, 000R300,000) that was exhibited at the SA National Gallery, Cape Town, in 1969. Arid Landscape
with Trees (estimate R5,000R7,000) is one of four watercolours on offer. It was given as a gift to the Stracks by Dorothee von Funcke.
The Fritz Krampe offerings are no less auspicious and include one of this Berlin-born artist’s major works, a doublesided oil on canvas from 1958, Village Scene with Woman smoking Pipe/Fishing Boat (estimate R250,000-R350,000). This work is a deviation from Krampe’s usual animal studies and depicts an East African village and its residents.
Krampe’s Cattle Frieze from 1959 (R200,000-R300,000) is a preliminary study for the artist’s acclaimed 10m long Otjitambi
Frieze. The frieze and preliminary works are extensively discussed in Timeless Encounters, a 2007 book on Krampe authored by Peter Strack. (In 2003 Strack also published a book on Jentsch.)
Peter Strack’s work as an artist is also acknowledged in the Strauss & Co sale, which features two undated sculptural pieces made from palm wood.
The Strack offering further includes pieces by SA artists, notably Alexis Preller’s Pondo
Girl (estimate R80,000R120,000), an early charcoal drawing from 1938.
The Strack collection offers an opportunity to reflect on the kinship between Namibian and SA landscape painters. In 1923, South African JH Pierneef visited Namibia. Pierneef exhibited in Windhoek and met local artists such as Axel Eriksson, whose
Kleine Spitzkoppe from 1921 (estimate R30,000-R40,000) shares many affinities with his SA contemporary’s rapturous mountain studies.
The sale of the Strack collection (lots 514-533) takes place on October 15 at 7pm at the Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town. It includes 23 paintings from the Labia family collection. The highlight is a masterpiece by Irma Stern, a still life of Dahlias (estimate R8-12m) depicting a favoured flower and claims an impeccable provenance. Stern’s brilliantly coloured oil was acquired by Cape Town collector Count Luccio Labia in 1994.
The sale includes furniture, decorative arts and jewellery.
Masterpiece: Fritz Krampe’s Village Scene with Woman Smoking Pipe, recto, Fishing Boat, verso, signed and dated 1958.