Modern and Contemporary Art

Live Virtual Auction, 16 May 2023

Modern and Contemporary Art

Sold for

ZAR 485 205
Lot 28
  • George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba; A Woman Sewing
  • George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba; A Woman Sewing
  • George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba; A Woman Sewing

Lot Estimate
ZAR 250 000 - 350 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 485 205

About this Item

South African 1912-2001
A Woman Sewing

signed and dated 76

oil on board
40 by 50cm excluding frame; 61,5 by 71,5 by 5,5cm including frame


Usually capturing fleeting moments, George Pemba created a remarkable visual history of everyday township life, as well as local Eastern Cape traditions, histories and legends. The present lot depicts an intimate interior scene of a woman seated at her sewing machine. Traditionally considered women’s work, but essentially an invisible action that implies care and creation, she is paused in this moment with her hands expertly poised to guide the fabric through the machine, her expression implying that her mind may be elsewhere. Pemba’s interiors often depict social relations, the interactions between family and friends; the expressions and gestures fill these spaces, and his paintings often have a scene-like quality. In A Woman Sewing, silence fills the room, her stance and gesture are subtle, her expression pensive. It is possible, given that Pemba painted this in 1976, that her mind is caught up in the horrific events of 16 June. She sits behind her table, creating a slight distance from her audience, although the viewer is inadvertently drawn into this compact, orderly space. The warmth of the colours, the yellow, orange and brown, create a glowing light and enhance the feeling of comfort in this humble home. No reference to the exterior world is given, enhancing the feeling of a stage, and placing the focus on the subtleties of the emotion conveyed rather than the minor details of the space: there is a straightforwardness, an unembellished honesty in the moment he has captured.


Stephan Welz & Co in Association with Sotheby's, Johannesburg 13 May 2002, lot 483.

View all George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba lots for sale in this auction

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