Strauss & Co’s popular online-only auction launches company’s 2021 sales programme

By Strauss and co 18 February 2021

Strauss & Co is pleased to announce details of its first online-only sale of 2021, running from 15 to 22 February featuring over 700 lots of art, decorative arts, jewellery and fine wine.

Growing confidence among buyers and sellers in Strauss & Co’s stable and secure trading platform launched in 2013, coupled with the rapid uptake of digital transacting during the Covid-19 pandemic, saw the company sell 3 130 items (70% lot sell-through rate) in its seven online sales last year. The increased confidence in buying collectables sight unseen resulted in a noticeable increase in the value of individual lots sold online.

Nelson Makamo twice topped the online auction tables in 2020, his popular figure-based works on paper breezing past the R200 000 mark. This sale includes a number of lots by Makamo, including a 2009 charcoal and pastel titled Figure with Pink Sunglasses (estimate R120 000 – 180 000) and a 2012 monotype, Woman with Glasses (estimate R80 000 – 120 000).

Walter Battiss who also recognised the democratic appeal of works on paper is represented by a pencil drawing titled Picasso gives Walter Battiss a Lithograph (estimate R50 000 – 70 000) which records an event from Battiss’s time in Paris in 1949 where, after gifting Picasso a copy of his book The Artists of the Rocks (1948) he became a regular guest at his studio. On one of these visits Picasso gifted Battiss a graphic depicting a bull – the event is recorded in the drawing on offer.

“He was a very fast worker, very prolific,” recalled Battiss in a 1981 interview of this pivotal encounter. “He could paint in two or three styles in a day. He influenced me that way, to have many different ways of presenting art.” Notable Battiss paintings include the double-sided work Abstract Composition/ Abstract Figure (R50 000 – 70 000). Battiss is credited with exhibiting the first abstract paintings in South Africa – in 1937 in Pretoria under the pseudonym Gregi Nola.

The sale includes a number of abstract paintings by key proponents, including Christo Coetzee (Homage to Michel Tapié de Céleyran, R15 000 – 20 000), Larry Scully (Red Abstract, R18 000 – 24 000), Fred Schimmel (Abstract #1080, R40 000 – 60 000) and Olaf Bisschoff (R25 000 – 35 000 each).

Works by three important later 20th century painters – Robert Hodgins, Douglas Portway and Andrew Verster – whose work heralded the transition from modernism to contemporary practice include:  Hodgins’s The Death of Danton: Final Act (R100 000 – 150 000) portrait of the French revolutionary leader Georges Danton, whose death by guillotine inspired Georg Büchner’s first play from 1835; Portway’s large and ethereal abstract from 1966 (R50 000 – 70 000) which dates from his peak period when, as he explained in a 1972 letter to the Tate Gallery, and Verster’s Bodyworks 5 (R120 000 – 160 000), a late work from 2006 and alloys a bold palette to a striking figural subject.

Notable contemporary painters include Georgina Gratrix, Ian Grose and Richard Mudariki. Gratrix is the subject of a mid-career survey at the Norval Foundation, now on display, and is represented by two gouaches from 2014 (R20 000 – 30 000 each). Mudariki, who has recently exhibited in Paris and Milan, is represented by a 2012 work, Brigadier General (R8 000 – 12 000).

The exciting sculpture offering is led by noteworthy modernist lots including Lucas Sithole’s 1993 carved wood study of a crouching Cat Figure (R20 000 – 30 000) and Edoardo Villa’s Abstract Plaque from 1964 (R15 000 – 20 000). Julius Mfethe’s five-part carved tableaux Ploughman and Oxen (R40 000 – 60 000) offers a masterclass in assiduous detailing. The sale also includes two smaller Mfethe lots: Milking the Cow and Man with a Basket, Donkey and Goat (R30 000 – 50 000 each). 

Julius Mfethe Man with a Basket, Donkey and Goat (7 parts) R 30 000 – 50 000

In 2020, Strauss & Co introduced a session spotlighting contemporary South African ceramics. The February ceramics offering is led by American artist Jeff Koons’ popular collectable ceramic multiple, Blue Balloon Dog from 2002 (R150 000 – 200 000). 

Standout decorative arts highlights include an array of wonderful silver pieces to suit any pocket and home. Amongst the top lots is a William IV silver three-piece tea service, Robert Makepiece & Richard Sibley, London, 1833-1835 (R18 000 – 20 000) and a Victorian silver basket and cover, Joseph Angell & John Angell, London, 1845 (R5 000 – 7 000) with blue-glass liner – which were popular wedding gifts during the Victorian era, often engraved with whimsical inscriptions to mark a new beginning for the happy couple.

Strauss & Co’s wine department kicks off 2021 with a selection of South African and international Rhône wines. Expect some rare and collectible vintage references along with more accessible, ready-to-be-enjoyed wines.

Bidding for lots in Strauss & Co’s category-rich February sale is now open and concludes on Monday, 22 February at 8pm. DM/ML

Browse > Bid > Buy www.straussart.co.za


Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet


With limited legal options, Zuma’s play is to discredit Zondo, claiming conspiracy

By Greg Nicolson