JH Pierneef: Close to Home

Live Virtual Auction, 25 July 2023

JH Pierneef: Close to Home

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Lot 32
  • Jacob Hendrik Pierneef; Garden at Elangeni
  • Jacob Hendrik Pierneef; Garden at Elangeni
  • Jacob Hendrik Pierneef; Garden at Elangeni

Lot Estimate
ZAR 900 000 - 1 200 000
Selling Price
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About this Item

South African 1886-1957
Garden at Elangeni

signed and dated 1942

oil on canvas
46 by 56,5 by 2,5cm; 46 by 56cm excluding frame; 49 by 59,5 by 5,5cm including frame


Pierneef took great pride in his garden at Elangeni. While he left the north slope of the koppie relatively untouched, other sections were laid out with flowerbeds and stone terracing. Besides the indigenous trees he planted – the kiepersol being a favourite – he tended to native shrubs, grasses and succulents. The present lot, which shimmers with light, is a rare painted view over the artist’s garden. We see the neat pathways zigzagging through the beds, the stepped terraces throwing sharp shadows, and an explosion of warm colour as the flowers catch the sun. Painted with some confidence in an impressionist mode, with small flecks and swirls of pure colour, the surface seems to glint and vibrate. The painting brings to mind many of Hugo Naudé’s best Namaqualand views, with the seasonal flowers in full bloom. As Naudé had died just months before, one can imagine Pierneef, sitting quietly in his beloved garden, his easel set, paying some stylistic homage to his late, long-time friend. Elangeni was declared a National Monument in 1975.

Surrounding the kraal, the gardens and groups of trees were thoughtfully planned and laid out by Pierneef himself, mainly with South African species. Higher up, against the hillside, he nurses and protects the natural vegetation. Every tree and shrub, or wild flower, is known to the master and lovingly pointed out: the silvery-green stamvrug that bears its fruit strung tight along the branches, as well as the wild peach bushes, with their snow-white perfumed blossoms in spring, and gorgeous orange fruits after Christmas.

– J F W Grosskopf

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