Evening Sale

Live Virtual Auction, 28 May 2024

Evening Sale

Sold for

ZAR 462 100
Lot 181
  • Willem Boshoff; 32 000 Darling Little Nuisances
  • Willem Boshoff; 32 000 Darling Little Nuisances
  • Willem Boshoff; 32 000 Darling Little Nuisances
  • Willem Boshoff; 32 000 Darling Little Nuisances

Lot Estimate
ZAR 400 000 - 600 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 462 100

About this Item

South African 1951-
32 000 Darling Little Nuisances

signed and inscribed with the title

installation comprising mirrors, acetate mounted on Polystyrene and large blown up posters
height: 246cm; width: 546cm; depth: 161cm


The present lot is a specially commissioned replica of the installation 32 000 Darling Little Nuisances made to scale for a private collector.

32,000 Darling Little Nuisances is a large-scale installation work conceptualised while Boshoff lived in the Johannesburg suburb of Kensington (a ‘white’ suburb under apartheid), named for the borough in South London around Kensington Palace, where members of the British royal family still live and the childhood home of Queen Victoria.

Boshoff lived in King Edward Street, named for Edward VII the son of Queen Victoria and her successor in 1901, during the South African war (11 October 1899 to 31 May 1902). King Edward Street is flanked by Kitchener Avenue and Roberts Avenue. The avenues are named for the British commander-in-chief Fredrick Sleigh Roberts and Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener who replaced the former in 1900. Both these leaders of the British campaign are considered by many scholars and war commentators to be war criminals, as they created concentration camps, leading to the needless and cruel deaths of 42 000 civilian detainees.

Boshoff’s work 32 000 Darling Little Nuisances was created in response to the refusal of the five British monarchs who reigned during the twentieth century to apologise for the war crimes committed during the South African war under the supervision of Kitchener and Roberts. The title of the work references the 32 000 children who died in internment camps. On a visit to Buckingham Palace, Boshoff obtained a pamphlet on the royal family titled Kings and Queens, where Queen Victoria is said to have been robustly practical about the tiresomeness of small children, and Boshoff adapted her own words ‘Children are such darling little things, but they can be a terrible nuisance’.

Queen Victoria’s is the first of the five proud and commanding British monarchs whose portraits are displayed with easily read labels. On the ceiling above the portraits are the names of the 1 400 children who met death in the Bethulie concentration camp, which was 60 kilometres from Boshoff’s grandfathers’ family farm, Willem Hendrik Boshoff (1880–1928), and where fourteen children listed bear the surname Boshoff; two of which are named Willem Hendrik Boshoff. The names of each child and ages when they died are printed on upside down and back to front strips of transparent film, illegible and if gazing straight up. Among the names are African words for ‘baby’ and ‘child’ used for the black children whose names were not recorded.

In the mirror, the ‘other side’, the effect is reversed, with the names of the children who met their deaths clearly readable, and the British monarch’s names and portraits upside down and reversed.

View all Willem Boshoff lots for sale in this auction

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