Live Auction, 20 May 2019

Christo Coetzee; Harlequin Fish
Lot 280

Lot Estimate
R 300 000 - 500 000
Selling Price
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About this Item

South African 1929-2000
Harlequin Fish
signed; inscribed with the artist's name on the frame; inscribed with the artist's name, the title, the medium and 'Temple Newsam' on a Hanover Gallery label adhered to the reverse
oil on board, in original artist frame
59 by 120,5cm excluding frame


Arguably one of the best still lifes on Christo Coetzee’s exhibition at the Hanover Gallery in London in 1955, Harlequin Fish represents the culmination of the first phase of Coetzee’s artistic career, which he labelled his Genre Painting period. After studying at Wits under Heather Martienssen, and then under William Coldstream at the Slade School of Art, Coetzee became part of the group of British and continental Modernist artists in the Governor stable that included Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach and Alberto Giacometti. Anthony Denney, a London-based society photographer was his chief mentor and patron at this time, opening up many opportunities for the young Coetzee to work in Paris, and enabling him to visit Japan, where he came under the spell of the famous Gutai group of artists.


Joseph Farley, acquired directly form the artist. (Joe Farley was an artist and picture framer, and a friend of Christo Coetzee, who lived in Cape Town until he moved to London circa 1954-5. In 1962, he and his wife Madalyn Farley founded the renowned prop rental firm Farley).

Private collection, Johannesburg.




Hanover Gallery, London, Still Life Paintings by Christo Coetzee, 17 March to 15 April 1955.

Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, The Safest Place is the Knife's Edge: Christo Coetzee (1929–2000), 5 October to 1 December 2018.



Muller Ballot (1999) Christo Coetzee, Cape Town: Human & Rousseau. Illustrated in black and white on page 29, titled Still-life with Strange Fish in Basket (1954–5).

Alet Vorster and Wilhelm van Rensburg (eds) (2018) The Safest Place is the Knife's Edge: A Retrospective Exhibition of the Works of Christo Coetzee, Johannesburg: Standard Bank. Illustrated in colour on page 40, titled Still-life with Strange Fish in Basket (1954–5).

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