Important South African and International Art, Decorative Arts & Jewellery

Live Auction, 15 October 2018

Art: Evening Session

Sold for

ZAR 967 300
Lot 549
  • Jacob Hendrik Pierneef; A View of Mountains Through Trees

Lot Estimate
ZAR 1 200 000 - 1 800 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 967 300

About this Item

South African 1886-1957
A View of Mountains Through Trees
signed and dated 30
oil on artist's board
34,5 by 59cm excluding frame


In the late 1920s and 1930s the art going public in South Africa was largely conservative and for the most part, generally uninformed about the new developments in modern art that were occurring in Europe.

Lecturing on modern art in 1928 at the Transvaal University College (now the University of Pretoria), J.H Pierneef vocalised his position about the government being “so lax in the promotion of the arts”, venturing further that “today, for example, the work of Cézanne – which would be considered extremely modern in South Africa – is already regarded as classic on the continent”.

Having just returned from a trip in the Netherlands, he had also visited Belguim, France and Germany, and “confronted with the art of the Impressionists, the Neo-Impressionists, the art of the Symbolists, the sensual Art Nouveau and the Geometrical Nieuwe Kunst”, Pierneef was inspired by the developments of the Modernists he encountered.2

In the present lot we see Pierneef in an experimental mood; playing with an unusual colour spectrum in the foreground trees which frame the theatrical grandeur of a distant pair of twin peaks. Topped by the familiar cloud formation that he would employ in the Station Panels (which he commenced in the same year as this painting was executed), the present lot illustrates Pierneef’s enduring flirtation with the avant-garde, whilst at the same time, he is employing more formal, compositional principles.

1. PG Nel. (1990) J.H. Pierneef: His Life and Work, Johannesburg and Cape Town: Perskor. Page 74.

2. Ibid, page 134.

View all Jacob Hendrik Pierneef lots for sale in this auction

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