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KWV Collection and five-star Pierneefs lead Strauss & Co’s April marquee sale

Strauss & Co is pleased to announce details of its forthcoming live sale of 19th century, modern, post-war and contemporary art, decorative arts, jewellery and fine wine, due to be held over three days from 11 to 13 April. This sale, the company’s first marquee live event for 2021, includes an important historical collection of art assembled over half a century by the Cape Wine Growers Association (KWV), two important collections of Chinese porcelain and a producer-themed sale of wines from three legendary Cape estates. A transcendent JH Pierneef landscape dominated by baobab trees leads a top-quality selection by this master landscape painter.

“Our four marquee live sales are important calendar events for collectors, as this is when Strauss & Co reveals its premium offerings and presents its single-owner properties,” says Strauss & Co joint managing director Bina Genovese. “The catalogue for the April sale is no exception. The painting selection is bracketed by two important historical landscapes by Thomas Bowler and a selection of graphics by contemporary masters of the form, Mr Brainwash and Banksy. The live sale will integrate various bidding options, from commission to telephone, online and in-person bidding, to ensure effortless transacting and personal well-being.”

Started in 1958, the KWV Collection features post-war paintings rooted in the Cape region, its landscapes, people and industries. Formerly displayed at the Laborie Manor and KWV Sensorium in the La Concorde head office, both in Paarl, the consignment to Strauss & Co includes The Origin of Wine/The Epic of Gilgamesh, an elaborate panel piece commissioned by KWV from Cecil Skotnes. The work narrates the history of wine and its arrival in South Africa and marked a pivotal moment in the artist’s later career. The collection also includes two Skotnes table settings, notably Still life with Bottles and Wyn wat die Meuse-hart Verheug.

Oil paintings by Thomas Bowler are exceedingly rare with only twelve examples known to be in existence. Strauss & Co is delighted to offer two Bowler oils consigned by Metropolitan Life. Both works have excellent provenance and exhibition histories.

Two works by JH Pierneef from the property of a gentleman lead an impressive selection of works by this auction bellwether in the April sale. Painted in 1952 and measuring 44,5 by 59cm, Baobabs is a fine example of Pierneef’s ornamental late style of depicting the northern landscapes of South Africa. Consigned by the same seller, a 1906 still life executed in charcoal and pencil reveals Pierneef’s solid grounding in the academic tradition.

A notable highlight of the sale is Maggie Laubser’s Shepherd and Sheep. Executed in 1924 when Laubser returned from Europe to her family farm, it represents one of numerous paintings of Ou Booi, the bushman who was the shepherd on the farm sporting his trademark outfit.

The middle of the twentieth century was a time of change and innovation for South African painting. Three painters stand out. Alexis Preller’s Constellation is a low relief made of gesso, oil and gold leaf on wood and features abundant galactic allusions. Christo Coetzee’s After Japan recalls his important work visit to Japan in 1959-60, and was first exhibited at Galerie Stadler, Paris, in 1961. Erik Laubscher’s vividly coloured trio of acrylics – Eggs and Gasket, Still Life: Homage to Marsden Hartley, and Abstract Still Life – derive from his confident middle period in the 1970s.

Contemporary painters represented in the sale include Beezy Bailey, Jan-Henri Booyens, Matthew Hindley, Ayanda Mabulu, Mustafa Maluka, Thierry Oussou, Lionel Smit and Pierre Vermeulen. Esther Mahlangu’s 2014 canvas Abstract records her commitment to a culturally resonant hard-edged abstraction. 

The sculpture offering also spans generations. Anton van Wouw’s Slegte Nuus was conceived in 1907, during a hot streak of creativity, and movingly portrays two crestfallen Boer soldiers. Dylan Lewis is best known for his large cat bronzes. Resting Cheetah III S224 dates from 2004 and is from a small edition of only 12 bronzes.

Following on a successful run of themed fine wine sales, Strauss & Co’s wine department will present a producer-focused sale devoted to De Toren Private Cellar, Meerlust Estate and Mullineux Family Wines. The decorative arts department will be presenting historical Cape and contemporary international furniture, fine jewellery, silver and two exceptional collections of Chinese porcelain. 

Strauss & Co’s marquee live sale will commence on Sunday, 11 April with a session devoted to the three Cape wine producers and it will conclude on Tuesday, 13 April. The sale will be live-streamed to bidders from two sales venues in Cape Town and Johannesburg. There is an option of in-person bidding at both venues. Covid-19 safety protocols apply throughout. DM/ML


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