Evening Sale

Live Virtual Auction, 19 March 2024

Evening Sale

Sold for

ZAR 2 173 125
Lot 27
  • Vladimir Tretchikoff; Flower Seller
  • Vladimir Tretchikoff; Flower Seller
  • Vladimir Tretchikoff; Flower Seller

Lot Estimate
ZAR 1 800 000 - 2 400 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 2 173 125
Cape Town

About this Item

South African 1913-2006
Flower Seller

signed and dated 49; inscribed with the title, date and medium on a gallery label adhered to the reverse

oil on canvas
77,5 by 72,5cm excluding frame; 104 by 99 by 7cm including frame


The present lot is accompanied by the exhibition catalogue, Tretchikoff The People's Painter, South African National Gallery.

Celebrating the triumph of his inaugural South African Tour, Tretchikoff envisioned his upcoming exhibition to centre around South Africa, his recently adopted homeland. Over the subsequent two years, he dedicated his artistic endeavours to capturing veld fires, depicting indigenous flora in still lifes, and, notably, creating portraits of the diverse South African populace.

Having lived in Java, Tretchikoff gained exposure to Malay culture before he arrived in South Africa. His fascination lay with the Cape Malay community and their everyday existence. Tretchikoff produced numerous portraits featuring the vibrant personalities of Cape Malay individuals, who, at their core, were urban dwellers engaged in ordinary life. The Cape Malays had transitioned from the traditional attire of their ancestors, discarding turbans and sarongs in favour of European fashion. Despite forgetting the languages, songs, and dances of their forebears, they retained certain ancient traditions. Embracing Dutch folk tunes, they infused them with an oriental touch. Their indigenous ‘liedjies’ (Afrikaans for ‘songs’), accompanied by the Ghomma drum, mirrored the pattern of Malay pantun songs.

Tretchikoff explored the bustling Malay Quarter situated on the slopes of Signal Hill, known as Bo-Kaap. Within the cobblestone pathways adorned with fig and pomegranate trees, goats and chickens wandered freely. The residents, against the vibrant backdrop of pink, yellow, orange, and blue houses, continued to wear red fezzes and wooden sandals. On Friday mornings, a shift in the air hinted at the scent of incense and rose water, marking the preparation for midday prayer at the Mosque by the local men.

Tretchikoff captured the vibrant essence of flower vendors adorned in colourful headcloths and aprons as they presented an array of blooms in various sizes and hues at the market each day. The current artwork serves as a noteworthy example from this facet of his body of work. The subject stands in front of a white wall, her silhouette casting a morning shadow depicted with shades of mauve, brown, and blue. Wearing a confident expression, she stands ready for another day of showcasing her beautiful merchandise. A meticulously detailed woven basket atop her head takes centre stage, leading to the focal point of the composition: intricately rendered blossoms, crafted with thick impasto that brings forth the vibrancy of freshly cut flowers emerging from the canvas.

Boris Gorelik (2013) Incredible Tretchikoff: Life of an Artist and Adventurer, London: Art Books Publishing Ltd, pages 127 -128; 208 – 216.


South African National Gallery, Cape Town, Tretchikoff The People's Painter, 26 May to 25 September 2011, illustrated in colour on page 9, cat. no. 32.

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