Modern and Contemporary Art

Live Virtual Auction, 16 May 2023

Modern and Contemporary Art

Sold for

Lot 21
  • Irma Stern; Arum Lilies and Bananas
  • Irma Stern; Arum Lilies and Bananas
  • Irma Stern; Arum Lilies and Bananas

Lot Estimate
ZAR 2 000 000 - 3 000 000
Selling Price
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About this Item

South African 1894-1966
Arum Lilies and Bananas

signed and dated 1925

oil on canvas
58 by 48cm excluding frame; 86 by 76,5 by 6cm including frame


Irma Stern had just returned from her studies in Germany when she painted this still life in 1925; the stamp of the Expressionist masters she knew is all over this evocative work. The still life subject was often painted by such German luminaries as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Pechstein, the latter becoming one of Stern’s lifelong friends. But in the current lot, it is perhaps the lesser-known Expressionist, Paula Modersohn-Becker, to which Stern was more closely drawn, particularly when considering the more softly simplified forms and the more muted colour palette. The mid-1920s, incidentally, was also the time when Stern’s contemporary, Maggie Laubser, returned to South Africa from her German and Continental sojourn. Sadly, both artists’ first exhibitions in South Africa attracted negative criticism from a conservative local art audience. The current lot, however, points toward the ground-breaking career lying ahead for Stern.

View all Irma Stern lots for sale in this auction

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