Live Virtual Auction, 10 August 2021
About this Item
A few years before he was to represent South Africa at the São Paulo Biennial in 1957, Jean Welz created Bathers on the Bridge. Talking about the picture at his solo exhibition in Johannesburg, he stated that the work was his attempt to produce an artwork “with as much beauty as possible, and to do this with the greatest integrity he was able.”1 According to Elza Miles in her publication The World of Jean Welz (1997), the artist had great difficulty in taking inspiration from the harsher South African veld landscape, compared to the European landscape he grew up in. So, although already living in South Africa, it was a reproduction of a Dutch landscape painting, that Welz bought at an auction and hung proudly in his Johannesburg home, that inspired this painting. You can clearly see this reference in the way Welz chooses to play with light and composition in the work. The contrast between the exquisite white, almost luminescent bathers and the extremely dark abstracted green foliage is largely reminiscent of the romantic and stark tonal palette seen in the Dutch landscape he was so fond of.
1. Elza Miles (1997) The World of Jean Welz, Vlaeberg: Fernwood Press Ltd, page 91.
Strauss & Co, Johannesburg, 9 March 2009, lot 64.
The Professor Leon Strydom Collection.
Constantia Gallery, Johannesburg, Solo Exhibition, October 1954.
Elza Miles (1997) The World of Jean Welz, Cape Town: Fernwood Press, illustrated in colour on page 136.