signed; inscribed with the artist's name, the title and the exhibition title, on a Tatham Art Gallery label adhered to the reverse
Derek Leigh studied under the British modernist Jack Heath at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg between 1959 and 1962. His rounded training there was characterised by a strict emphasis on drawing, design, sound technique and art history. Later, in Paris, with his sister Valerie and his soon-to-be-wife, Leonora Haden, he fell under the sway, as did so many other talented, impressionable young artists, of André Lhôte. It comes as little surprise then that his developing style, particularly in its approach to the landscape, borrowed from Lhôte’s tonal key, formal solidity, and Fauvist colour palette.
After a stint teaching art at Luanshya High School in Zambia in 1966, Leigh spent a year painting at Bonnefoi, his wife’s now famous family farm in the Eastern Transvaal. While already committed to a gently geometric and bright brand of neo-impressionism, his work at Bonnefoi could not have escaped the influence of Bertha Everard and Edith King, both of whom had recently passed away, while he might have found in Ruth Everard Haden’s sinuous horizon lines, quilted landscapes and rich, ravishing colour combinations a beautiful, convincing template. The present lot, Eastern Transvaal Landscape, was probably painted during this formative moment.
Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg, Derek Milton Leigh: A Memorial Exhibition, 15 November 1994 – 8 January 1995, catalogue number 7.
Brendan Bell and Bryony Clark (eds.) (1994). Derek Milton Leigh (1940–1993): A Memorial Exhibition, Tatham Art Gallery: Pietermaritzburg. Illustrated in black and white on page 90.