The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection

Live Virtual Auction, 20 September 2022

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection
About the Session

Strauss & Co is pleased to present this extraordinary collection as the featured session this September Live Virtual Auction. An established insolvency practitioner with a passion for the arts, Oliver Powell's principal focus has been collecting South African painting, sculpture and works on paper made since 1950. Colour, graphic ingenuity and emotional weight are all attributes in an artwork that Powell is drawn to. Powell also emphasises the importance of his many encounters with artists. “There is so much value in meeting an artist,” says Powell. “Aspects and details of their life are reflected in what and how they paint.”

Sold for

ZAR 284 500
Lot 67
  • George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba; Hairdo
  • George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba; Hairdo
  • George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba; Hairdo

Lot Estimate
ZAR 250 000 - 350 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 284 500

About this Item

South African 1912-2001

signed and dated 89; inscribed with the title on the reverse and further inscribed with the artist's name, title and medium on a South African National Gallery label adhered to the reverse

oil on board
43 by 57cm excluding frame; 63 by 77 by 4cm including frame


This late work, painted when George Pemba was 77 and formerly owned by artist and teacher Diane McLean, records Pemba’s life-long interest in domestic routines, communal rites and urban customs, including grooming. A consummate draftsman, Pemba’s sketchbooks feature many studies rehearsing these themes. A technically accomplished oil painter, his mature output from the 1950s onwards combined the stylistic influences of seventeenth-century Dutch naturalism with nineteenth-century British narrative painting and early French modernism, including realism and impressionism. His oils ranged from detailed studies characterised by their fastidious brushwork to more loosely described works rehearsing an impression, such as this lot. Common throughout is his “directness, unembellished honesty, strength of draughtsmanship and composition and observational ability.”1 Difficulties working in the socially volatile circumstances of the late 1980s, coupled with his advanced age, did not blunt Pemba’s enthusiasm for depicting scenes from life. The late 1980s saw Pemba achieve wider national acclaim that culminated in a monograph and retrospective exhibition, both in 1996. Writing in the catalogue for the latter, art historian Jacqueline Nolte rightly observes that Pemba’s best work is characterised by “a quietude which overrules all possible ruptures”.2 Stillness and calm pervade this feminine scene of personal care involving a youth and her elder.

1. Quoted in Hayden Proud (ed) (1996) George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba, Cape Town, SouthAfrican National Gallery, page 40.
2. Ibid.


Collection of Diane McLean, Buhrmannsdrif, North West, 1996.

Stephan Welz & Co, Johannesburg, 18 April 2005, lot 91. 

The Oliver Powell and Timely Investments Trust Collection.


South African National Gallery, Cape Town, George Pemba Retrospective, 27 April to 28 July 1996, listed as number 111 on page 86 of exhibition catalogue.


Sarah Hudleston (1996) Against all Odds — George Pemba: His Life and Works, Johannesburg: Jonothan Ball Publishers, illustrated in colour on page 195.

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

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