Press Release - 14 March 2011
In the early 1900’s Anton van Wouw spend most of his time on other projects rather than his art. In this period he produced only 4 small sculptures: Leemans, the Postman; The Student; The Bushman Hunter and The Girl with a Guitar.
Leemans, the Postman shows the full-length figure of an old man with a long beard and a broad-brimmed hat, which he presses against his chest with his right hand while politely making a bow. Leemans (1840 – 1908) was known as Paul Krugers Telegraph messenger. When he delivered a telegram, Leemans would remove hid hat, bow slightly and say “Die aflewering is koseloos”. Nevertheless, everyone could see that the free delivering could not go unpaid. Van Wouw’s successfully portrays an atmosphere of servile expectations in the posture and facial expressions. These castings show the figure in a sloppy jacket and corduroy pants. Special attention is given to the finish of details such as the wrinkles in the face, the modelling of the shoes, trousers and fingers. Not many original casting of this sculpture exist. The very best castings have a good brown patina and were cast in Rome by G. Massa.
Another sculpture in the session is The Bushman Hunter. Van Wouw adopted a busman, named Korhaan and his wife from a farm near Marico, to work as his servants and sculpture models. He stayed there for about a year while van Wouw worked on The Bushman Hunter and also Bust of a Bushman. Afterwards Korhaaan moved on to America to be exhibited as a Human rarity. The Bushman Hunter shows a very realistic figure almost naked. He looks straight ahead and treads with his left foot forward while holding his bow and arrow sturdily in his left hand. Especially obvious are the wrinkles on his forehead, the prominent veins on his hands, neck, arms and legs and the folds of the skin on his stomach, back, right arm, feet and heels. The Bushman Hunter was one of van Wouw’s most popular sculptures and he finished each figurine off personally. Castings with mostly dark brown patina were done by Nisini and were signed “A V WOUW 1902” in a cartouche behind the left foot of the figurine.
In 1906 a syndicate contributed money to allow van Wouw to spend all his time on his art for 3 years. Thereafter Abe Bailey made it possible for him to work for one more year. In 1907 van Wouw had the opportunity to make as many as 14 sculptures. The Mieliepap Eater was amongst them.
This small sculpture shows a young African who sits astride a three-legged pot, which stands on a fire in front of him. While he draws the pot nearer to him with his left hand, scrapes the mieliepap out with a wooden spoon in his left hand. His upper body is naked and he wears old trousers with the trousers leg rolled up above his knees. Especially noticeable are the finish of detail such as the hands, feet and face of the figurine, as well as the three-legged pot and the finish of the stones and wood on the base. A comparison between this work and Shangaan, where the same model was used, highlights similarities particularly with regards to his age indicating that the two works were done in the same year. Pieter Wenning had this piece specially commissioned to surprise his wife in April 1914 and according to Harco Wenning, in My Father, it was admired by all who visited their home in President Street, Pretoria.
For further information contact Imre Lamprecht or Annelise Coetzee on 011 880 3125 or e-mail: email@example.com