Live Virtual Auction, 10 - 11 May 2020
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This auction is being conducted during a National State of Disaster in South Africa and in accordance with the various Regulations passed by the Government in South Africa in response. Presently, South Africa’s National State of Disaster is at Level 4, which limits certain commercial activity. Read More →
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About this Item
Maurice van Essche settled in South Africa in 1940, when expressionist painting was still in its ascendancy. His training under James Ensor in Belgium and Henri Matisse in the French Riviera town of Cagnes uniquely equipped Van Essche to contribute towards the advancement of painting in a parochial art scene still awed by the theatrics of impressionist facility. A member of the New Group, Van Essche is best known for his stylised depictions of tall Congolese women and stoic Coloured fishermen, although he also depicted clowns and still-life scenes. This lot dates from the final years of Van Essche’s professorship (1962–70) at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, where he was first employed as a lecturer in 1952. Unlike his earliest still lifes, in which he attempted to rehearse the precision of Flemish painting, Van Essche’s late-career works were expressive mood pieces. Loosely painted, albeit with a clear sense of design and understanding of colour, Van Essche frequently juxtaposed art objects (brushes, tubes of paint, drawings, paintings, sculptures) with perishable comforts (fruit, vegetables, fish). Less consciously decorative than his figure paintings, these introspective genre pieces communicate a harmonious unity between the disparate elements – including, here, the cut apple, two playing cards and work-in-progress composition at left.