Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art

Johannesburg  |  3:00pm Mon 20 May 2019


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Lot 232

South African 1911-1975
Open Book
signed and dated 46
oil on canvas laid down on board
40 by 50cm excluding frame

This lot did not sell

Estimate R 700 000 - 1 000 000

It might still be available, contact us if you're interested.

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The vivid blue morning glories found in at least three of Alexis Preller’s still life paintings were cultivated around the artist’s studio at Ygdrasil, from seeds that his friend, Sampie de Wet, had given him. In The Open Book, the flowers are contained in a deep blue rectangular vase next to a white spider conch sea shell. These are framed by an open book showing a colour plate of Netherlandish master Rogier van der Weyden’s fifteenth century Portrait of a Lady.

Books were extremely important in Preller’s life and they are the subject of a large number of his paintings. He read voraciously on many subjects and was heavily dependent on art books for their visual content. The books Preller depicted in the still life paintings were often open on a page illustrating a historic European figure or a work by a favourite artist.

In the same year, Preller painted Blue Flowers, a still life composition with morning glories arranged in one of his much-loved ‘household gods’, a ‘Persian’ vase given to him by his mother. In Morning Glories and Thorns (1947), a bright red hibiscus is added to the arrangement and Preller again creates a stagelike setting with a book as backdrop, this time the open page showing a colour plate of El Greco’s Virgin and Child (1599).

Bought from the artist by the current owner's grandfather, Mr Toby Louw.

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