Live Auction, 11 November 2019

Sold for

ZAR 34 140
Lot 75
  • Anna Vorster; Bloomsbury Rooftops

Lot Estimate
ZAR 15 000 - 20 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium and VAT
ZAR 34 140

About this Item

South African 1928-1990
Bloomsbury Rooftops
signed and dated 53; dated 1953 and inscribed with the artist's name, the title and 'Exhibited at Young Painters from the Commonwealth' on a label adhered to the reverse; inscribed with the artist's name, the title and 'Exhibited on Hulde aan Anna Vorster 94, cat. no. 2' on a Pretoria Art Museum label adhered to the reverse
oil on canvas
39,5 by 59,5cm excluding frame


The artist studied under André Lhote in Paris from 1953 to 1954, and under Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 in 1964.

Anna Vorster completed her Fine Arts degree at the University of the Witwatersrand between 1948 and 1952, overlapping with the so-called Wits Group that included Christo Coetzee, Nel Erasmus, Larry Scully, Cecil Skotnes, Gordon Vorster and Esmé Berman. As Vorster was awarded a two-year scholarship to study in London and Paris, she trained at the Slade School of Art between 1952 and 1953 (at a time when the teaching staff included William Coldstream, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and Lucien Freud), before staying at the Cité Internationale des Arts (in a room with Nel Erasmus) the following year, and working under André Lhote. Bloomsbury Rooftops, of course, was executed while at the Slade, and shows neat rows of clay chimney pots against a grey sky. It was painted from the window of the Hotel St Margarets, from where the artist had a view towards the small dome and spire of the Russel Square Hotel. A wonderful, expressive study for the painting survives (fig 1). Bloomsbury Rooftops was included in the Exhibition of Commonwealth Artists held in London during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Although painted in a loose style, the work can only ever fall into a broadly realist category. Cypress Tree, by comparison, which was painted a few years later, probably in Bloemfontein, provides evidence of an enormous shift in the artist’s style: a more severe and abstract aesthetic is on show, with the trees simplified into angular geometric elements, their trunks sinuous and one-coloured, and the palette, dominated by electric pink, sunglow yellow and midnight blue, distinctly modern. The step-change, one expects, was down to her Parisian exposure in between. Not only would she have come under the sway of Lhote’s latecareer loyalty to Cubist and Fauvist traits, but she would also have been moved by the work of another expatriate in Paris, Maud Sumner.


Commonwealth Art Gallery, London, Young Painters from the Commonwealth, 1953.

Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria, Hulde aan Anna Vorster, 1994.

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