19th Century, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Jewellery and Wine

Live Virtual Auction, 11 - 13 April 2021

19th Century, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art

Sold for

ZAR 1 593 200
Lot 583
  • Maggie Laubser; Shepherd and Sheep
  • Maggie Laubser; Shepherd and Sheep
  • Maggie Laubser; Shepherd and Sheep
  • Maggie Laubser; Shepherd and Sheep

Lot Estimate
ZAR 1 200 000 - 1 500 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 1 593 200

About this Item

South African 1886-1973
Shepherd and Sheep

signed and dated 24

oil on canvas laid down on board
38,5 by 49cm excluding frame; 54 by 64 by 4,5cm including frame


On 21 February 1956, Maggie Laubser participated in a radio talk on the Afrikaans Service of the SABC where she spoke about her youth. In this segment she specifically mentions Ou Booi, the subject of this present lot:

I almost forgot one of the most important characters on the farm – ‘Ou Booi’, the Bushman who was our shepherd. He told me many stories of the pioneering days in Bloemfontein, which is where he came from. I had enormous respect for the strangely dignified quality of Ou Booi, with his patchwork trousers, his threadbare green coat and ostrich feather in his hat. You have often met Ou Booi already, as he has been a model for me on several occasions.1

Laubser returned from Europe to her family’s farm in 1924 and produced numerous paintings of Ou Booi in his trademark outfit, which often also included a red kerchief tied around his neck and tucked into the top of his shirt. As with another portrait of him (The Old Shepherd, sold with Strauss & Co on 16 October 2017), it seems as though Laubser has again swapped out the ostrich feather for another adornment – as evidenced by two reed-like stalks emerging from the front of his hat. In the present lot, Ou Booi, positioned in front of Laubser’s signature puffy cloud that is giving way to a warm sunset, is tending to his small flock of sheep. Positioned just off centre of the painting, he leans heavily on his wooden shepherd’s staff, which cuts diagonally through the middle of the picture plane. Laubser’s focus on the staff – both here and in other paintings on this theme – is reminiscent of early representations of the Good Shepherd, where the crook was the shepherd’s distinguishing attribute.2 This figure was a beloved motif in Laubser’s works and her depictions of him were often a combination of spiritual message (she was a devout Christian Scientist) and reality.

1.  Muller Ballot (2016) Maggie Laubser: A Window on Always Light, Stellenbosch: Sun Press, page 293.

2.  Ibid, page 182.


Prof Van Hooger, Stellenbosch.

Prof G P J Trümpelmann, Stellenbosch.

Private Collection.


South African National Gallery, Cape Town, S A Women Artists, 1965, catalogue number 49.

South African Association of Arts (SAAA) and Rembrandt Witwatersrand Easter Show, Pretoria, 1964, catalogue number 44.


Dalene Marais (1994) Maggie Laubser: Her Paintings, Drawings and Graphics, Johannesburg: Perskor, illustrated in black and white on page 198, catalogue number 611, with the titles Figure in a Landscape; Shepherd, Sheep, Cloud and Seascape with Boats; Shepherd;  Skaapwagter.

F L Alexander (1962) Art in South Africa: Painting Sculpture and Graphic Work since 1900, Cape Town: A A Balkema, illustrated in black in white on page 95, figure 65. 

View all Maggie Laubser lots for sale in this auction

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