Having been guided in drawing by Henry Tonks and Philip Wilson Steer at the Slade School in London, exhibited with the New English art Club and the London Group, and having served as an official War Artist from 1943, Rupert Shephard took up the Directorship of the Michaelis School in Cape Town in 1948. Thereafter, his style, which had relied on a gentle, sober impressionism, gave way to a more decorative approach, typified not only by careful attention to geometric pattern but by rich, unexpected colour. This radical change had much to do with the artist’s exposure to the Mapogga people of the then Transvaal; much in the way Alexis Preller had been before him, Shephard was moved by their bold sense of colour and their geometric designs. With this in mind, the figures in the present lot are thoughtfully simplified while their blankets are reduced to an angular patchwork of broadly-painted segments. There is wonderful ambiguity in the way the blankets relate to the ground on which the bead sellers rest: quite where fabric becomes earth or stone is difficult to tell.