Important South African & International Art, Jewellery and Decorative Arts

Live Auction, 12 October 2015

Important South African and International Art, Evening Sale

Sold for

ZAR 90 944
Lot 564
  • Robert Hodgins; Ubu: The Browning Version

Lot Estimate
ZAR 80 000 - 120 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 90 944

About this Item

South African 1920-2010
Ubu: The Browning Version

signed and dated '84/6; signed, dated and inscribed with the title and medium on the reverse

tempera with oil glazes on pressed board
35 by 50,5cm excluding frame


Hodgins discusses the figure of Ubu as follows:

Ubu is himself not only ignoble, he is a familiar historical figure: the clown in power, the clown who seems so funny that it’s easy to forget that he is evil. Such figures as, variously, Nero, Goering, Idi Amin have seemed so comic that their essential evil has somehow escaped history’s attention. In making a series of paintings based on this play (Ubu Roi), what was then available was a sense that Ubu could be taken out of his place in Jarry’s work and shown as anything from viciously triumphant to merely foolish.1

In the year after he retired from teaching in the Fine Art Department of the University of the Witwatersrand, Hodgins began this painting. The Browning Version is Terence Rattigan’s acclaimed play about a classics teacher facing the termination of his job and the end of his marriage. First performed in London in 1948, it is viewed as one of the best one-act plays ever written.

1. Ivor Powell ‘I Remember Uncle Ubu [1986]: Hodgins and Memory’ in Rory Doepel. UBU: +/- 101: William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Deborah Bell. Johannesburg: The French Institute of South Africa and University of the Witwatersrand. Page 48.

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