This small watercolour, with its obvious nod to Charles Bell’s Landing of van Riebeeck at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652 (1850), was the artist’s study for a major painting in oils. The picture formed in the artist’s mind from a childhood memory: as a twelve-year-old he had taken the role of a Dutch settler in a school play that had been staged in the City Hall as part of the Van Riebeeck Tercentenary Festival. Explaining the work, the artist’s widow noted that ‘history painting is not only about external events, but very often deals with the artist’s own history as well. This painting (and the larger oil painting) is one of a series of nostalgic childhood events and memories... Such history painting enables the artist to reconstruct his own past. As a mature adult he now had the opportunity to re-present and define incidents in a balanced, amusing and gently ironic manner’.1
1 See Kobie Venter, Irony in History Painting, University of Natal, unpublished dissertation, 1994.
Purchased by the current owner from the Jack Heath Gallery, Pietermaritzburg in 1991.