Transcending Boundaries: International Modern and Contemporary Art

Live Virtual Auction, 25 October 2023

International Modern and Contemporary Art
  • Bronwen (Jinny) Heath; Interior with Moroccan Carpet
  • Bronwen (Jinny) Heath; Interior with Moroccan Carpet

Lot Estimate
ZAR 25 000 - 35 000
Cape Town
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About this Item

British/South African 1944-
Interior with Moroccan Carpet

signed and dated '85; signed and inscribed with the title on the reverse

oil on canvas
257 by 109cm, unframed


This interior is the subject of several works by the artist. Interior with Paintings, lot 265, 13 November 2017, SOLD R12 505. Most are on a very modest scale, on paper, and the smallest is the size of a postcard in oil over tempera.

Bronwen (Jinny) Heath studied at the University of Natal under her parents, Jack (lot 3 to 6) and Jane (lot 11 and 14). If her still life paintings show the quiet restraint and discipline of her mother’s work, the present lot, a door-shaped view into the artist’s bedroom in the Heath’s family home, is no doubt influenced by the strict geometry and bold colour combinations of her father’s major pictures. Drawn to the potential of simple interior spaces, the artist creates a complex pattern of quadrate bursts of light, each in grades of yellow, gold and lavender, and each changing direction while crossing differently-angled planes. The ethereal beams of light, ever-enchanting, are off-set by the tactile, embroidered carpet below, intricately painted in pink, plum and indigo. Besides the obvious links to her parents’ work, Interior with Moroccan Carpet is a beautifully lit if sharper-edged, picture in the tradition of the great French Intimists, Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard.

The Heath family lived in a large, old and gracefully decrepit Victorian house on a promontory overlooking the planned red-brick-and-jacaranda city of Pietermaritzburg. The interior spaces were bewitching, and Jack (along with the family) altered the house over many years to harvest the light from every direction.

In adulthood, Jinny occupied three small rooms facing East, and the morning sun spilled through the tall sash windows of two rooms and a glassed-in wall of the room between. Secondary light spilled in from the opposite side, where Jack had created a high interior window into a living area. Jack created the archways depicted. The first was immediately adjacent to a normal doorway, and both gave access to the same small room following the destruction (this time by Jinny) of a passage. The light changed constantly, the beams playing endless geometric games which appealed to a painter who had absorbed The Golden Section and Renaissance ‘disegno’ since childhood.

The present lot is on two canvases joined by a bright yellow frame constructed by the artist. The top canvas is deliberately door-sized, the subject is seen in elevation, and the wall in which the archway sits is on the picture plane. The lower canvas represents the plan view of the floor, with its antique Moroccan embroidered rug, purchased in Marrakesh in the days when travel to North Africa was arduous. The painter has used an extremely high key and the yellow-violet complementary, striving for brilliance while avoiding the whitewashed look by using the purest cadmiums where possible.

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