Live Auction, 5 March 2018

Jacob Hendrik Pierneef; Still Life of Gourds, a Pomegranate and an African Clay Pot
Lot 541

Lot Estimate
R 400 000 - 600 000
Selling Price
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About this Item

South African 1886-1957
Still Life of Gourds, a Pomegranate and an African Clay Pot
signed; inscribed with the title on a Johans Borman Fine Art label adhered to the reverse
oil on artist's board
45,5 by 60cm excluding frame


Whilst Pierneef is principally known for his extensive landscapes, several still life works exist that provide a unique perspective into the development of his pictorial concerns which merged the techniques of European modernism with a distinctly African vision.   

We can deduce that Still Life of Gourds, a Pomegranate and an African Clay Pot was painted in 1938 based on the similar iconography and style employed in the work titled African Still Life which is illustrated on page 330 of Esmé Berman’s book, Art and Artists of South Africa.

This rare still life demonstrates the artist’s pre-occupation with forging an African identity in his choice of objects that include indigenous gourds and a Venda pot. 

By rooting this still life in a South African vernacular seen in the fusion of his painterly style coupled with local subject matter, Pierneef was pioneering a new mode of expression which firmly established his place in South Africa’s art history. 

In this lot the paint is applied thinly in an illustrative style where Pierneef’s faceted brushwork, sound draughtsmanship and modulated tonal planes create dynamism through the monumental scale of his chosen objects. This is achieved through the use of dramatic lighting together with a charged background field that radiates a halo of energy that expands beyond the confines of the pictorial plane. 


A Pieter Wenning Gallery label adhered to the reverse.


cf. JFW Grosskopf. (1945) Hendrik Pierneef: Die Man en sy Werk, Pretoria: JL van Schaik, Bpk. A similar example is illustrated, plate 66.
cf. Esme Berman, (1983) Art and Artists of South Africa. Johannesburg: Southern Book Publishers. A similar example is illustrated on page 330.

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