Because of their rarity and their brilliance, Pierneef's caseins are often considered to be his jewels. Casein, similar to poster paint or gouache, is a very strongly adhesive substance made from fresh curd, the proteins in which act as a binding agent. Pierneef discovered the medium for himself while he was awaiting art supplies ordered from the Schweickerdts firm in Pretoria, and its quick-drying properties suited his experimentation with impressionism and pointillism.
The present lot is evidence of Pierneef's mastery of the casein medium. With its small scale, detailed composition and twinkling colour, the work is a dazzling example of his dexterity as an artist. Each brushstroke is eye-catching; 'each,' AC Bouman has noted, 'is a facet of a cut crystal which the sharp cutter, Pierneef, has taken in his hand'.1
1 AC Bouman. (1938) Art in South Africa, page 77.