Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr – or Onze Jan, as he was affectionately nicknamed – was a long-serving member of the Cape House of Assembly, and wielded much political influence in the Cape Colony in the decades prior to Union, particularly among the Dutch-speaking supporters of the Afrikanerbond (an organisation not to be confused with the later Afrikaner Broederbond).
This handsome bust is certainly related to the commission Van Wouw received in 1915 to produce a large-scale statue of Onze Jan for Cape Town’s Church Square. Sitting proudly atop a bell-shaped base, this is one of only two known bronze castings of this bust. It is uncertain when it came out of the F.W. Braat foundry, Deft – most likely in 1916 or 1917 – but the sharp casting of the gently frowning brow and the luxurious beard gives the bust a weighty, lifelike presence. Onze Jan died in London in October 1909, just months before Louis Botha was installed as the first prime minister of the Union of South Africa.