trove of collectables from eighteenth to twenty-first century in three-part strauss & co sale


Strauss & Co concludes 2021 with a bumper, three-part online auction

22 Nov 2021

Strauss & Co is pleased to announce details of its final sale of 2021, an online-only auction of collectables gathered by experts from the company’s decorative arts, wine and fine art departments.

The sale includes exceptional silver, furniture and ceramics from the 18th and 19th centuries, a rich list of rare Italian and Spanish wines, as well as important artworks in various media from the 20th and 21 centuries.

“The end-of-year sale has been divided into three parts, with staggered conclusions over three consecutive days, in order to do justice to the exceptional consignment of works on offer,” says Susie Goodman, an executive director at Strauss & Co. “This decision also enables us to better profile our collaborating partners and single-owner collections. We are delighted to announce that the multi-talented artist Sam Nhlengethwa has agreed to guest curate a session in our sale. Among his many achievements, Sam cofounded the Bag Factory Artists’ Studio, an important artist-led institution with whom we have an on-going relationship in the form of the annual Cassirer Welz Award.”

The estate of Rose Korber, a Cape art critic and dealer who died in 2020, includes a number of works on paper produced by Mark Attwood of The Artists’ Press. A video of Attwood detailing the processes involved in making art prints and recounting his experiences working with artists such as Robert Hodgins, Claudette Schreuders and Nhlengethwa is available on Strauss & Co’s website and dedicated YouTube channel. An interview with Nhlengethwa conducted by Wilhelm van Rensburg, Strauss & Co’s chief curator and a senior art specialist, is also available online.

“There are a number of outstanding works on paper in this sale,” says Wilhelm van Rensburg, whose keen insights into the medium stem from his long association with the much-loved Johannesburg gallery Art on Paper. “They include a very early and rare linocut series by Norman Catherine, Scenes with Abstract Figures (estimate R10 000 – 15 000), executed while he was an art student at the East London Technical College under Jack Lugg.”

Helmut Starcke, Kevin Atkinson and Jules van de Vijver were accomplished printmakers who all taught at the Michaelis School of Fine Art. Their work, says Van Rensburg, is characterised by its “technical and conceptual innovation” and represents an important chapter in the history of printmaking in South Africa, after the foundation laid by Walter Battiss. Jules van de Vijver’s Tracks (estimate R8 000 – 12 000) is a noteworthy portfolio of screenprints from 1982.

A vibrant colourist painter who also innovated with printmaking, Andrew Verster is represented in the sale by two works, including the 1973 etching-lithograph I Wonder What Happened to Archie? (estimate R3 000 – 4 000). Verster’s influence as a teacher is most notably recognisable in former student Bronwen Findlay’s vibrant floral composition Waterlilies (estimate R30 000 – 50 000).

Notable works of sculpture represented in the sale include Dylan Lewis’s Centennial Black Rhinoceros Maquette (estimate R170 000 – 200 000) and Julius Mfethe’s Vierspan Ploeg (estimate R50 000 – 70 000), a magnificently carved farming scene with a plough and four oxen. Strauss & Co recently established a world record for Mfethe’s work at auction. Sipho Ndlovu, a close friend of Mfethe, picks up this theme of bovine labour in three paintings, most notably in Amampondweni, Port St. Johns (estimate R10 000 – 15 000).

The top three art lots by value in this sale are Robert Hodgins’ late-career bathing scene, Three Nudes and a Naked Man (estimate R 350 000 – 450 000), Dylan Lewis’s Warthog Boar and Piglet (R 350 000 – 450 000) from 1991, and JH Pierneef’s oil on canvas Landscape with Cliffs with Cypress Trees (estimate R200 000 – 300 000) from 1945.

Strauss & Co’s decorative arts department has assembled a fine offering of beautiful objects, particularly those which also have a practical use. Among the selection of silver, one of the highlights is an impressive Victorian silver-plated tray measuring nearly 88cm from handle to handle (estimate R4 000 – 6 000), and an array of no less than five sets of candlesticks including Edwardian, Georgian and Victorian examples.

There is a comprehensive choice of teapots, from late 18th century to George VI, representative of the styles and practical evolution of this everyday object, and encapsulating the elegance of serving what was once regarded as a luxury beverage to be enjoyed on special occasions.

A highlight of the English furniture is a fine glass fronted bookcase by Maple and Co (estimate R7 000 – 9 000), one the largest and most successful British furniture retailers and cabinet makers in the late 19th century, Victorian and Edwardian periods, and from Europe there is a large rustic French oak table (estimate R15 000 – 20 000), perfect for informal family get-togethers.

Demand for indigenous ceramics is robust. Following the two successful auctions this year of South African ceramics, including the Juanita Bird Collection of Linn Ware and other 20th century ceramics, collectors will be excited by the further examples on offer from the Linn Ware, Ceramic Studio, Globe and Hamburger’s Pottery studios.

Strauss & Co’s wine department has curated a representative list of rare Italian and Spanish wines. Often produced in small quantities, there are small parcels, mixed cases and a number of magnums. The top Italian lot is a 2016 vintage of Masseto’s Toscana IGT (estimate R13 000 – 16 000). The top Spanish lot is Vega Sicilia’s Ribera del Duero Unico Reserva Especial (estimate R18 000 – 24 000), presented in three vintages (2005, 2006 and 2007).

Tuscan and Piedmontese wines dominate the curated wine session. The Tuscan line-up includes all the big names from Bolgheri, Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino including, Flaccianello, Soldera, Castello di Ama, Ornellaia, Sassicaia, Salvioni and San Giustro de Rentanano. Classic names from Piedmont region include Bruno Giacosa, Paulo Scavino, Gaja, GD Vajra, Mascarello, Rinaldi, Pio Cesare and Produttori del Barbaresco. Makers from other Italian regional producers include Mastroberardino, Tenute della Terre Nere, Allegrini and Quintarelli.

Spain has eleven quality wine regions. La Rioja Alta and Vega Sicilia represent the Ribera del Duero in the country’s northern plateau. Priorat is represented by the famous wines of Alvaro Palacios and Clos Erasmus, as well as Terrior al Limit 2008s, made by Eben Sadie at the time. The powerful line-up also includes two fine vintage Toros in Numanthia and Elias Mora.

Strauss & Co has established a strong relationship with the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg. The November online-only sale also includes a number of works consigned by the Friends of the Tatham Art Gallery following a silent auction known as the Fabulous Picture Show. Artists represented in this charity session include Heather Gourlay-Conyngham and Hussein Salim, both established figures at auction. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Tatham Art Gallery’s acquisition budget.

Buyer registration and bidding on lots in Strauss & Co’s three-part November online-only auction commences on Monday, 22 November 2021. Part I of the sale will conclude at 8pm on Sunday, 28 November 2021, with Part II concluding on Monday, 29 November 2021 and Part III on Tuesday, 30 November 2021, also at 8pm.

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