Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art

Live Virtual Auction, 5 - 6 April 2022

Figuration: Past and Present

Sold for

ZAR 853 500
Lot 338
  • Maggie Laubser; Harvesters in Wheatfield, Mountains and Clouds in Background
  • Maggie Laubser; Harvesters in Wheatfield, Mountains and Clouds in Background
  • Maggie Laubser; Harvesters in Wheatfield, Mountains and Clouds in Background
  • Maggie Laubser; Harvesters in Wheatfield, Mountains and Clouds in Background
  • Maggie Laubser; Harvesters in Wheatfield, Mountains and Clouds in Background
  • Maggie Laubser; Harvesters in Wheatfield, Mountains and Clouds in Background


Lot Estimate
ZAR 600 000 - 800 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 853 500

About this Item

South African 1886-1973
Harvesters in Wheatfield, Mountains and Clouds in Background

signed with the artist's initials

oil on cardboard
36,5 by 44cm excluding frame; 55 by 62 by 3,5cm including frame

Notes

An unfinished portrait on the reverse.

A recurring theme in Maggie Laubser’s artistic career was that of the harvest. There are perhaps two reasons why she was so enamoured with this imagery. The first was that farm life was entrenched in her: she was born and grew up on a wheat farm in the Malmesbury district (Bloublommetjieskloof) and later, after her European travels ended in 1924, she returned to the new farm her parents had bought in 1914, Oortmanspoort near Klipheuwel, where she would live for the next 22 years. During her stay in Europe, particularly Belgium, she was drawn to women harvesters, making numerous drawings and paintings on this theme, such as Woman Harvester Resting among Sheaves, which Strauss & Co sold in October 2018, (lot 540). The second, and arguably more important for Laubser, was the religious connotation. An ardent Christian Scientist, Laubser searched for God in everything and regarded her output as a response to God’s love; ''for her to paint was to pray''.1 The harvest is a strong symbol throughout the Bible, for example: ‘Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together’ (John 4:36).

The present lot can be read as a companion piece to Harvesters in Wheatfield, which Strauss & Co sold in November 2018 for R2 276 000 (lot 297) and features on the front cover of Dalene Marais’ book, Maggie Laubser: Her Paintings, Drawings and Graphics (1994). As in that work the present lot depicts two farm hands in the same landscape. They are working in concert with one another, one cutting the ripe wheat with his sickle and the other gathering and bundling it into sheaves. The harvesters are stooped, toiling in the midday heat as their shadows suggest. With subtle differences here and there, a notable distinction between the two works is visible in the colours of the mountains. In the present lot Laubser employed shades of purple with touches of pink and navy blue to suggest light and shadow. She has also rendered soft and billowing clouds. Laubser has echoed the curves of the sickle with the harvesters’ bent bodies, the rolling hills, the mountain peaks, and the rounded clouds. Laubser maintained: ‘anybody looking at any one of my pictures…will see how design is the fundamental basis of all...’2

  1. Elza Miles (2018) in Strauss & Co, Important South African and International Art: 12 November 2018, auction catalogue, Johannesburg: Strauss & Co, page 215.
  2. Muller Ballot (2016) Maggie Laubser: A Window on Always Light. Stellenbosch: Sun Press, page 306.

Provenance

Dr and Mrs WWM Eiselen, Magoebaskloof, acquired from the artist circa 1926.

Private Collection.

Literature

Dalene Marais (1994) Maggie Laubser: Her Paintings, Drawings and Graphics. Johannesburg and Cape Town: Perskor, illustrated in black and white on page 202, catalogue number 635.

View all Maggie Laubser lots for sale in this auction



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