The pedigree of art dealer and collector Matthys Strydom’s collection sees collectors pay premium prices at Strauss & Co auction

24 Nov 2022

The legendary Cape art dealer and collector Matthys Strydom (1935-2022) received an enthusiastic send-off by art lovers following a week of remembrance in Cape Town organised by Strauss & Co. Strydom’s extensive art collection, which surveyed a century of South African art, was warmly received by the public when it went on view in the historical manor house of Welgemeend in Gardens, Cape Town.

The exhibition, a celebration of Strydom’s passion and intellect as a collector, served as preamble to the highly successful sale of the Property of Dr Matthys Strydom Family Collection. Presented in two instalments, starting with a timed-online auction, the sale culminated in a live-virtual auction of high-value works. Both sales witnessed strong bidding and achieved solid results, netting a combined income of R14.6 million.

“We are delighted with the outcome of this sale, which celebrated the life of an important figure in the history of South African art and its promotion,” says Frank Kilbourn, Chairperson, Strauss & Co. “The timed-online auction saw works by the likes of Gregoire Boonzaier, Olivia Scholnick and Eben van der Merwe attract strong bidding, notably by new buyers. Our marquee live-virtual auction drew a full house of live bidders, such was the quality of the work on offer.”

Added Frank Kilbourn: “It was very encouraging to see collectors chase after excellent paintings by well-known artists like Erik Laubscher, JH Pierneef, Stanley Pinker, Maurice van Essche and Jean Welz. It was equally satisfying to see collectors bid premium prices for lesser-celebrated – but no less important – artists such as Hardy Botha, Claude Bouscharain, Carl Büchner and George Ramagaga. Our lot sell-through rate averaged at 90% for both sales. The successful sale of the Strydom Family Collection confirmed Strauss & Co’s ability to handle prestigious single-owner collections of important South African art.”

The timed-online sale saw five works by Gregoire Boonzaier place in the ten top-earning works, alongside pieces by Olivia Scholnick, J. H. Pierneef, Eben van der Merwe and Jan Vermeiren. Pierneef’s woodblock print depicting Eucalyptus trees was the highest earner, selling for R99 663. This masterful landscape artist from the earlier 20th century also topped the rankings for the premier evening sale, when his Bosveldbome (Bushveld Trees) sold to an online bidder for R2.8 million. Another Pierneef landscape, Bosveldboomlandskap (Bushveld Landscape with Trees), was also the subject of intense bidding and sold for R2.6 million.

Strydom’s encyclopaedic collection of art contained many treasures, a fact reflected in the broad and enthusiastic bidding. Undeterred by the unceremonious arrival of loadshedding, collectors secured rare watercolours by Robert Hodgins, superb landscapes by J. E. A. Volschenk, gorgeous figure studies by Eleanor Esmonde-White and two alpine studies by Clément Sénèque. The above-estimate sales of Sénèque’s work are of particular note given Strauss & Co’s recent exhibition of his work in Johannesburg. Other artists whose work drew strong bids were Helmut Starcke and Judith Mason, whose accomplished diptych Expulsion from Eden sold well above estimate for R170 700. The sale of the Strydom Family Collection concludes Strauss & Co’s live auction programme for 2022. Strauss & Co will host a final online-only auction of art, jewellery and wine, with an emphasis on oriental art and Cape scenes. This online-only sale closes on Monday, 28 November 2023.

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