Art Rooted in Nature: Evening Sale

Live Virtual Auction, 25 June 2024

Evening Sale
About the Session

South African artists have long drawn inspiration from the earth, capturing the beauty and complexity of flora and landscapes, with their works. The selection for sale emphasises themes of both human and non-human elements in nature, reflecting a profound connection to the environment.

This auction showcases a rich artwork medley that delves into the intricate relationship between the natural world and artistic expression. Featuring botanical depictions, landscapes, coastal scenes, floral still lifes and garden scenes in the Cape and beyond, the sale highlights the enduring relevance of nature in art, especially in the context of contemporary ecological concerns.

This auction celebrates the harmony between scientific precision and artistic creativity, making a compelling case for the ongoing relevance of depicting nature.

Running from 7 to 25 June to coincide with the Hermanus Fynarts Festival 2024, the Strauss & Co auction aims to complement the festival’s vibrant celebration of creativity in all its forms.

Current Bid

Lot 245
  • Jacob Hendrik Pierneef; Landscape, Northern Transvaal
  • Jacob Hendrik Pierneef; Landscape, Northern Transvaal
  • Jacob Hendrik Pierneef; Landscape, Northern Transvaal

Lot Estimate
ZAR 400 000 - 600 000
Current Bid
Starting at ZAR 320 000
Cape Town
Condition Report
May include additional detailed images
Need more information?

About this Item

South African 1886-1957
Landscape, Northern Transvaal

signed; inscribed with the artist's name and the title on a label adhered to the reverse

oil on board
29 by 38,5cm excluding frame; 50 by 60 by 5cm including frame


Mountain scenes were already entrenched as a subject by the time JH Pierneef emerged as a young painter and graphic artist in the 1910s. Pierneef’s distinction emerged out of his commitment to depicting the landscapes of the recently unionised northern parts of South Africa in a thoroughly cosmopolitan and modern style. Shunning the fusty naturalism of revered Cape mountain painters like Gwelo Goodman and Jan Volschenk, Pierneef initially painted the country’s northern bushveld and escarpment areas in a mannered impressionist style before settling on his mature style. Hallmarks of this celebrated style include a tendency towards graphic simplification and the use of what art historian Anna Tietze describes as a ‘blonde’ colour range. Blues, greens, pinks and violets came to dominate Pierneef’s colour palette. ‘Although black is avoided, contrasts between light and shade are very striking and … help to intensify the drama and clarity of the image,’ writes Tietze.1

Pierneef roamed widely across the Transvaal, a fact reflected in his vast body of work depicting rocky outcrops and ranges across the northern province. The mountain in this undated composition is unnamed, not uncommon for Pierneef. The facts of its location are subordinated to the experience of a recessive mountain landscape seen from a flat vantage rendered in earthy hues. As the eye ascends to the purple apex of the mountain, the wandering eye is entertained by Pierneef’s visible fabrication of a topographical scene into a vividly painted image. Pierneef did not entirely spurn the showy brushwork in his early landscapes in his later career. As late as 1950, he would produce impressionistic rural scenes portraying little more than mountains framed by clouds. This work is typical.

Characteristically, his storm clouds in these zestful and instinctual compositions are less architectonic and ornate, but rather a fuzz of greys and whites denoting a weather event. Changeable weather, though, was never an interest of Pierneef. ‘Weather is a sum of temporary conditions; it is virtually a metaphor for inconstancy,’ wrote Esmé Berman in a late-career reflection on Pierneef. ‘Emphasis on that aspect of the natural scene would have been in total conflict with Pierneef’s vision. The very essence of the South African landscape, as he perceived it, was the sense of permanence, of immutability.’2

1. Anna Tietze (2022) Iziko South African National Gallery, Masterpiece of the Month: Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, N’tabeni (1930), online,, accessed 22 May 2024.
2. Sean O’Toole (2010) email interview with Esmé Berman, 1 December.


Stellenbosch Art Gallery.

Private Collection.

View all Jacob Hendrik Pierneef lots for sale in this auction

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