Evening Sale

Live Virtual Auction, 28 May 2024

Evening Sale

Sold for

ZAR 635 388
Lot 144
  • Vladimir Tretchikoff; Dahlias
  • Vladimir Tretchikoff; Dahlias
  • Vladimir Tretchikoff; Dahlias

Lot Estimate
ZAR 800 000 - 1 200 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 635 388

About this Item

South African 1913-2006


oil on canvas
100,5 by 69cm excluding frame; 115,5 by 84 by 7cm including frame


During his enormously successful career in his adopted South Africa, Tretchikoff made a series of striking and popular still life paintings characterised by razor-sharp detail and a straightforward composition on an elongated canvas. In these works, longstemmed chrysanthemums, lilies, proteas, red hot pokers or magnolias were arranged carefully within glass or ceramic vases and set against stark or uniformly textured backgrounds. While the present lot, Dahlias, would certainly be included in this series, it is set apart by some elaborate optical trickery. The artist was clearly intrigued by the visual ambiguity set up by multiple mirrors and reflections. By placing a large gilt mirror on the mantlepiece behind the still life arrangement, and selecting a gleaming glass vase before it, Tretchikoff used reflection to paint scenes within scenes. Vladimir Tretchikoff, Pink Magnolias in Black Vase, undated. Amusingly, the artist used the compositional stunt to include his own image in the painting. Revealed in the gently rounded vase is Tretchikoff himself, standing at his easel studying his subject. Following a very long line of similar illusions – think of Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait (1434), Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656) and Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1881–1882) – Tretchikoff was certainly partial to the device: besides including his portrait in a number of his paintings, he also made reference to his skill by placing his palette, paint tubes or brushes, the tools of his craft, in some of his still life compositions.

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