Important South African and International Art

Live Auction, 13 November 2017

Session Three

Sold for

ZAR 2 159 920
Lot 346
  • Jacob Hendrik Pierneef; Extensive Landsape

Lot Estimate
ZAR 1 500 000 - 2 000 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 2 159 920

About this Item

South African 1886-1957
Extensive Landsape


oil on canvas
44,5 by 60cm excluding frame


The objective correlative of Pierneef’s Extensive Landscape, is certainly the mountain range, extending the view far towards the background, but also extensively in a sideway manner to the left and the right of the picture plane. Not only does it carry the structural elements of the composition, but also the emotive connotations of the landscape.

Apart from trees and clouds, mountains are a recurring motif, often holding together the composition of a landscape with its interesting rock formations, resulting in a monumental decorative aspect in his work, no matter how small the actual size of the canvas. ‘The true South African landscape’ according to Nobel laureate JM Coetzee,  ‘is of rock, not of foliage and therefore the South African artist must employ a geological, not a botanical gaze. This geological turn is particularly intriguing because it claims that vegetation disguises landscape.’1 Pierneef has no trouble laying bare the landscape in its full glory.

Pierneef’s perennial interest in the compositional potential of the role of the mountain in a landscape is most evident in the numerous landscapes of the Station Panels dealing with mountains: no fewer than 14 of the 28 large scale panels contain mountains as dominant feature in the composition. Of particular interest is the mountain ranges of Lesotho, the so-called ‘Mountain Kingdom’, and the Drakensberg mountain range, the latter suggesting Pierneef’s interest in prehistoric Rock Art as is evident in the very first commission he executed for the Ficksburg High School: eight panels of rock art images found in caves in the Eastern Free State and in the Drakensberg range. The prehistory of a country is embedded in the mountains, Pierneef seems to suggests in this Extensive Landscape.

1 J.M Coetzee (1988) White Writing: On the Culture of Letters in South Africa. New Haven: Radix publishers p167.

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