Work by SA’s art aris­toc­racy es­ti­mated to pull in R80m

Ma­jor pieces, in­clud­ing by Stern, Laub­ser and Pierneef, can be viewed this week­end be­fore Strauss & Co’s sale

Business Day - - AUCTIONS -

Strauss & Co will hold its largest live auc­tion by value, with com­bined es­ti­mates for its Novem­ber 12 sale in Jo­han­nes­burg ex­ceed­ing R80m.

The sale has 26 lots with es­ti­mates of R1m or more, and in­cludes works of as­ton­ish­ing range and depth by no­table mod­ernist painters such as Mag­gie Laub­ser, JH Pierneef, Alexis Preller and Irma Stern.

Stern’s 1941 por­trait of Mary Cramer, a sis­ter of the artist’s con­fi­dante, Freda Feld­man, car­ries the sale’s high­est es­ti­mate (es­ti­mate R5m-R7m).

This ex­tra­or­di­nary por­trait, notes art his­to­rian Fed­erico Freschi, was once dis­played in Feld­man’s din­ing room. “It cap­tures the com­plex­i­ties and con­tra­dic­tions that lie be­neath the masks of out­ward ap­pear­ance.”

The Jo­han­nes­burg sale fea­tures 11 lots by Stern, in­clud­ing a fine se­lec­tion of her so­ci­ety and travel por­traits, no­tably the gouache works Congo Woman from 1942 (es­ti­mate R2m-R3m) and Lady of the Harem from 1945 (es­ti­mate R3m-R4m).

“Stern is the top-sell­ing artist at Strauss & Co’s auc­tions, fol­lowed by JH Pierneef, who has 17 works on the present sale,” said Bina Gen­ovese of Strauss.

Pierneef is best known for his ex­pertly chore­ographed SA scenes, in­clud­ing Farm Jonker­shoek with Twin Peaks Be­yond,

Stel­len­bosch, which sold for R20.46m at a 2017 Strauss sale achiev­ing a world record for Pierneef. The forth­com­ing sale in­cludes two stylised for­eign land­scapes from his trav­els. Cin­na­mon Mill, Sey­chelles (es­ti­mate R4m-R5m) is an un­usual post-im­pres­sion­ist study of trop­i­cal abun­dance. It was painted in 1954 dur­ing a hol­i­day, long af­ter Pierneef first heard of the East African is­land from his men­tor, Frans Oerder.

Dar es Salam (es­ti­mate R4m-R6m is a ver­dant town­scape com­plete with Pierneef’s ever-present cloud for­ma­tions loom­ing on the hori­zon.

The sale in­cludes two ex­cep­tional land­scapes from 1928, both linked to the Sch­we­ick­erdt fam­ily in Pre­to­ria, works that dis­til Pierneef’s ge­nius for ren­der­ing place. Lowveld Eastern Transvaal (es­ti­mate R3m-R4m) is a mes­meris­ing kalei­do­scope of acutely ob­served nat­u­ral colours, while Wil­low Trees, Rood­e­plaat Dam, (es­ti­mate R2m-R3m) is a mo­saic of au­tum­nal colours

Col­lec­tors will be able to bid for Pierneef’s three works de­pict­ing to­bac­conist Lodewijk de Jager’s shop, where the artist worked in the early 1900s. The two wa­ter­colours and a pen­cil draw­ing cap­ture Pierneef’s fine sense for ar­chi­tec­tural de­tail (sold as one lot, es­ti­mate R200,000-R300,000).

Preller has in re­cent years be­come a sought-af­ter artist at auc­tion. In 2010, Strauss regis­tered the first up­swing in the value of Preller’s work when it sold The Flower King, a late­pe­riod metaphor­i­cal por­trait from 1970, for R2.89m.

Preller has five lots on sale in Jo­han­nes­burg, in­clud­ing Ap­ple

II, a late-ca­reer in­taglio with painted hol­low that was pro­duced in 1969 (es­ti­mate R4mR5m). African Pro­file (R1mR1.5m) dates from the start of Preller’s Gold pe­riod in 1965.

Two years ago, Strauss & Co suc­cess­fully brought a num­ber of im­por­tant Prellers to mar­ket, some owned by prom­i­nent col­lec­tor Wal­ter Harde­beck.

Five oil paint­ings by pi­o­neer­ing ex­pres­sion­ist Laub­ser are also on of­fer.

“The im­pec­ca­ble con­sign­ment in­cludes her study of labour, Har­vesters in Wheat­field

(es­ti­mate R2m-R3m), which fea­tures on the cover of Da­lene Marais’s cat­a­logue raisonné of the artist and forms an im­por­tant part of our of­fer­ing of nine Laub­ser lots,” said Gen­ovese.

A por­trait Leen­tjie (es­ti­mate R1m-R2m), which por­trays a young fe­male worker from the Laub­ser farm, is also on of­fer.

“The sale of these out­stand­ing works is pre­ceded by a ses­sion ded­i­cated to un­der-recog­nised his­tor­i­cal artists. The ‘Un­sung His­tory’ ses­sion of­fers col­lec­tors an ex­pan­sive view of SA art his­tory at a time of grow­ing in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est in SA art,” said Gen­ovese.

Two out­stand­ing works by Erik Laub­scher are among the high­lights of the sale: Still Life with Pa­paya, recto; Still Life with Lemons, verso (es­ti­mate R2mR3m) and Over­berg (es­ti­mate R1m-R1.3m).

The sale also in­cludes a rich of­fer­ing of works by con­tem­po­rary artists in­clud­ing William Ken­tridge, Robert Hod­gins, Diane Vic­tor, Deb­o­rah Bell and Karel Nel.

All the lots will be avail­able for view­ing at the Wan­der­ers Club in Jo­han­nes­burg from Fri­day, Novem­ber 9 un­til shortly be­fore the pre­mier evening sale com­mences at 8pm on Mon­day, Novem­ber 12.

A lead­ing SA art out­let, Strauss & Co has sold nine of the 10 most ex­pen­sive paint­ings ever auc­tioned in SA.

/Sup­plied

Un­veiled: Irma Stern’s Lady of the Harem, signed and dated 1945, is one of the works by ma­jor artists on sale at Strauss & Co’s Jo­han­nes­burg sale at Wan­der­ers on Mon­day.

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