Live Virtual Auction, 11 - 12 October 2021

Sold for

R 910 400
Lot 365
Irma Stern; East African Village Scene

Lot Estimate
R 800 000 - 1 200 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium and VAT
R 910 400

About this Item

South African 1894-1966
East African Village Scene
signed and dated indistinctly, 194*
gouache on paper
53,5 by 73cm excluding frame; 82,5 by 100,5 by 3cm including frame


The decade of the 1940s is often defined as a period of wanderlust in the career of Irma Stern, with her trips to the Belgian Congo in 1942 and 1946, and Zanzibar in 1939 and 1945, resulting in some of the most desirable works in her artistic oeuvre. The present lot, a large scale gouache, indistinctly dated, was probably painted on one of these visits.

Frequently celebrated as an expressionist painter, Stern’s landscapes from this period reveal more of an impressionist method in her mark making. Her observations are confident and precise, with the verdant landscape coming to frame the dwellings that blend seamlessly into their environment. Stern mounted an exhibition at the Musée Ethnographique in Elizabethville (present day Lumbumbashi) in October 1942 featuring 73 works. The show hung for only a day but was greeted with enthusiasm by the resident colonial expatriot audience.1

In 1942 Joseph Sachs praised the masterly way she simplified nature. ‘Stern’s skill’, thought Sachs, was ‘putting down on the canvas the general impression of a landscape – the impression which is the emotional response to the visual impact rather than the accumulation of material detail’.2

  1. Sandra Klopper (2017) Irma Stern: Are You Still Alive? Cape Town: Orisha, page 154.
  2. Joseph Sachs (1942) Irma Stern and the Spirit of Africa, Pretoria: JL van Schaik, page 39.

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