PRESS RELEASE_________________________________________________________________13 OCTOBER 2009
Comprising an eclectic mix from around the globe, the forthcoming Stephan Welz & Company auction of Decorative and Fine Arts will take place on 20 & 21 October at the Old Mutual Conference Centre, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Pre-sale viewing is open to the public and runs from 16 through 18 October.
More than a third of the sale, which includes a total of some 900 plus lots, is made up of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures; collectively these represent a broad spectrum of South African and international artists and their visions from around the world.
J H Pierneef
The auction’s frontispiece is J.H. Pierneef’s ‘The Baobab, Bushveld, Messina’ (pre-sale estimate R2 400 000-R2 800 000). This iconic painting was executed in 1945 and showcases the artist’s mastery of pared-down palette, strong design and subtle lyricism. As the title suggests, the focus of this work is the majestic Baobab which rises off-centre within the composition. This lends naturalism to the painting, albeit engineered by the artist. “This iconic work shows the virtuosity of Pierneef at the height of his powers and has already attracted the attention of collectors ahead of the auction,” says Ian Hunter, Head of Paintings.
A contemporary of Pierneef, Pieter Wenning, is represented by ‘Geboue Met Bome’ (R600 000-R800 000). This painting is illustrated along with two similar views in J Du P. Scholtz’s book titled ‘D.C. Boonzaier & Pieter Wenning : Verslag van a Vriendskap’. This work is typical of those produced by Wenning during his time spent “in the autumnal and wintry Cape”. Wenning was happiest and most productive here in Cape Town so it is ironic that it was the damp from which he fled when leaving Europe and the subsequent claim that this weather exacerbated his declining health and led to his untimely death.
P W F Wenning
A cornerstone of the Cape Town art world during the first half of the twentieth century was Ethel Ruth Prowse. Her early and intimate work titled ‘A View of St George’s Cathedral’ (R140 000-R180 000) is dated 1919 and provides a snapshot of Cape Town from a bygone era. A tireless crusader during the latter half of her career for the preservation of Cape Town’s increasingly compromised architecture, Prowse became better known for this campaigning rather than her art. She indeed denied “herself the hours required for painting in order to achieve her altruistic end”.
E R Prowse
George Pemba, one of the foremost black South African artists, achieved almost unprecedented fame in his lifetime. Pemba was encouraged to paint in oil by Gerard Sekoto. Originally a watercolourist tutored by Dorothy Kay, Pemba switched his primary choice of medium later in his career and both the paintings available on this sale are oils. Painted in 1957, ‘A Girl with Firewood’ (R300 000-R400 000) is a sensitive portrait typical of Pemba’s figural mastery. ‘Combat’ (R350 000-R450 000), painted in 1961, with its dynamic and graphic composition is in stark contrast to the portrait.
Anton van Wouw’s bronze sculpture ‘Study of a Bullfrog’ (R150 000-R200 000) is described by Professor Duffey, the foremost van Wouw scholar, as being one of only two castings of the sculpture that exist. On the belly of the bullfrog is a florid signature by the artist, a personal touch added on these small editions. Professor Duffey also mentions that this work would have been created in the years following WW1.
Travel has certainly always played an important role in providing subject and inspiration for artists. A number of the works selected for this sale reflect the respective artists’ visions from their journeys. This is certainly true for Marjorie Wallace. A Scot by birth, Wallace settled in South Africa subsequent to having met and married the young Jan Rabie. Paintings of her numerous travels capture the vibrancy and energy of the countries she visited. The vivacious ‘Field of Poppies, Santorini’ (R70 000-R100 000) offsets the contained palette of another adopted South African great, Alfred Krenz. In his work titled ‘A Winter Street Scene, Paris’ (R40 000-R50 000) Krenz pares his palette to near monochrome-like simplicity.
South African Art’s Grande Dame, Irma Stern, features at this auction with ‘After the Storm, Alicante’ (R1 800 000-R2 200 000) which is an example from the artist’s late body of work. Intense colours and a dynamic compositional distortion lend this painting a strong design quality.
Pieter Hugo Naudé is represented through a number of fine works. Amongst the examples by Naudé sourced for this sale are two works painted while the artist was travelling in Europe and North Africa. Respectively titled ‘A View of St Mark’s Square from the Grand Canal, Venice’ (R220 000-R260 000) and ‘Fort Jesus, Mombasa’ (R200 000-R250 000) these two paintings provide lyrical snapshots of two vastly different exotic destinations.
P H Naudé
Amongst the fine selection of non-South African artists on this auction are works by prominent British, European and Australian artists. Born in Glasgow, David Gauld (Scottish 1865-1936) was a peripheral member of the active Glasgow ‘Boys’ art group which had been established to challenge the dominance of the Scottish Academy. Gauld’s ‘Resting’ (R40 000-R60 000) is typical of this Scottish artist’s oeuvre and can be dated to the artist’s body of work executed post 1890. The lush greens and warm browns are executed alla prima and typically would have been executed by Gauld in a single sitting.
John Piper (1903-1992), one of Britain’s foremost modern painters, said of his own work “I know perfectly well that I would rather paint a ruined abbey half-covered by ivy and standing in long grass rather than when it has been taken over by the Office of Works, when they have taken all the ivy off and mown the grass”. Piper’s renditions of the ‘Ruin of St Felix, Babingly, Norfolk’ (R90 000-R120 000) and ‘St Leonard, Loveston, Pembroke, South Wales’ (R50 000-R70 000) capture the majesty of these National Trust landmarks.
Moving ‘Down Under’, Robert Juniper (1929-) is best known for his evocative rendering of the landscape of Western Australia. Recognised as a ‘Living Treasure’ in his home state, Juniper’s work ‘Landscape’ (R20 000-R30 000) keeps company with fellow Australians Ivan John Durrant’s ‘Three Horses’ (R12 000-R16 000) and Theodore William Boussevain’s ‘The Artist’s Girlfriend’ (estimate R12 000 – R16 000).
Returning to South African soil, or perhaps more appropriately, South African sand, Stanley Pinker brings us ‘Suntan’ (R300 000-R400 000). This work is executed in a tri-band of design; the dominance of the expanse of hot shimmering beach is balanced by the bold lines which describe the intertwined couple who are, in turn, contained by the vivid blue sky/sea which completes the upper portion of the composition. Pinker has said of his work “…I could escape with the sole intent of making a beautiful painting. So it is about joy… [the figures] laze languidly. They are in a dream world.” We are certainly soothed by the somnolent mood of the couple.
‘Homage’ (R40 000-R60 000), a print collaboration co-ordinated by the Michaelis School of Fine Art, has brought together some of the finest contemporary talent in the South Africa. Artists include William Kentridge and Peter Clarke. The portfolio, comprising twelve prints of various media, has been produced to establish a scholarship fund at UCT in memory of Cecil Skotnes. Stephen Inggs says that the portfolio offers a unique investment opportunity for contemporary collectors.
The latest Stephan Welz & Company auction catalogue, detailing the 900 plus lots, is now available.
For further information, please call 021 794 6461.
Friday 16 October 10am till 8pm
Saturday 17 October 10am till 3pm
Sunday 18 October 10am till 5pm
Tuesday 20 October Session 1 10am
Session 2 2.30pm
Session 3 7pm
Wednesday 21 October Session 4 10am