Strauss & Co is proud to announce its largest-ever live auction by value, with combined estimates for the 12 November sale exceeding R80 million. The astonishing range and depth of work on offer – notably by key twentieth-century artists like Maggie Laubser, JH Pierneef, Alexis Preller and Irma Stern – is confirmed by the fact that 26 lots on this sale carry estimates of R1 million, or more.
In the decade since its first auction in 2009, Strauss & Co has established the pre-eminence of quality paintings at market. Irma Stern’s 1941 portrait of a Mary Cramer, a sister of the artist’s confidante, Freda Feldman, carries the sale’s highest estimate, and is valued at R5 – 7 million. The sale features 11 Stern lots.
JH Pierneef has 17 works on sale. Best known for his expertly choreographed South African scenes, including Farm Jonkershoek with Twin Peaks Beyond, Stellenbosch, which sold for R20.46 million at a 2017 Strauss & Co sale achieving a world record for the artist, the forthcoming sale features two stylised landscapes from his travels depicting the Seychelles and Dar es Salam. The sale also includes two exceptional casein landscapes, works that distil Pierneef’s genius talent for rendering place.
Pierneef and Stern are Strauss & Co’s top-selling artists, followed by Alexis Preller. In 2010, Strauss & Co registered the first upswing in value of Preller’s work when it sold The Flower King, a late-period metaphorical portrait from 1970, for R 2.89 million. Preller has five works on sale in Johannesburg, including Apple II, a late-career intaglio with painted hollow that was produced in 1969 (estimate R4 – 5 million).
Also offering five oils by pioneering expressionist Maggie Laubser from the Estate of a Gentleman. The impeccable consignment includes her study of labour, Harvesters in Wheatfield (estimate R2 – 3 million) which features on the cover of Dalene Marais’ catalogue raisonne’ of the artist and forms an important part of our offering of nine Laubser lots.
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 South African art history at a time of growing international interest in South African art. The themed session includes early pioneers like Ernest Mancoba, John Koenakeefe Mohl, Gerard Sekoto and Moses Tladi. The special session is intended to commemorate a groundbreaking event held three decades ago at Johannesburg’s premier public art institution.
“The range and depth of talent South Africa produced throughout the twentieth century is truly astonishing,” says Susie Goodman, a director at Strauss & Co. “We are an auction house – not a museum – and our aim with specially themed section of our sale is to stimulate collector interest in the diversity and variety of South Africa’s art history. Our aim to broaden appreciation among collectors by introducing them to overlooked artists and practices from this country.”
Strauss & Co is a global leader for South African art and has sold nine of the ten most expensive paintings ever auctioned in South Africa. The Unsung History sale forms part of the company’s day-long sale of modern and contemporary art at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg on Monday the 12th of November.
For further details consult the website www.straussart.co.za