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Pierneef’s style switch among sale highlights

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A diverse selection of artworks by acclaimed South African Old Master JH Pierneef - including five from a single owner - are among the highlights of Strauss & Co’s fine-art spring sale on October 7 at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands.

The most unusual Pierneef work on offer attests to the power of travel to stimulate artistic energy. In 1926, the artist returned to Pretoria from an extensive European tour with plans to “shock” local art connoisseurs with a new style.

One of the five paintings from “Collection of a Lady” will be Pierneef’s Gold & Green, Rooiplaat, NT (estimate R500 000 to R700 000), a neo-impressionist rarity that startlingly depicts the artist’s beloved Rooiplaat countryside with surprising short, wriggling strokes of colour – notably mauve, teal, pink and yellow – instead of his characteristic flat planes, lines and relatively muted colours.

The Pierneef consignment includes two early oils of willow trees, as well as his dazzling Tall Trees in a Mountain Landscape (R500 000 to R700 000).

Painted in 1925, this work dates from Pierneef’s marriage to May Schoep following an unhappy earlier marriage and is a remarkable example of work from this energised period of renewal.

But Pierneef is not yet a match for Irma Stern when it comes to auction prices globally.

Stern’s stirring portrait Watusi Woman with Mountains, painted while the artist was in the Belgian Congo in 1946, will undoubtedly outshine all others. The painting, with a pre-sale top price of R12 million will, along with three portraits by Maggie Laubser, attract strong bidding.

For more details, call 021 683 6560 or email ct@straussart.co.za.

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