Important South African Paintings, Furniture, Silver, Ceramics and Glass

Live Auction, 7 March 2011


Sold for

ZAR 1 002 600
Lot 235
  • Irma Stern; Still Life with Fruit and Flowers

Lot Estimate
ZAR 900 000 - 1 200 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 1 002 600

About this Item

South African 1894-1966
Still Life with Fruit and Flowers

signed and dated 1934

75,5 by 56cm excluding frame


Irma Stern, in all likelihood, painted this Still Life with Fruit and Flowers in October or November 1934 because the blue Pacific Giant Delphiniums and pink Hemerocallis (day lilies) in the arrangement flower in early summer. As Dr John Rourke, President of the Botanical Society of South Africa and former head of the Compton Herbarium at the Kirstenbosch Research Centre, points out:
The pink Hemerocallis might be confused with the Cape March lily, Amaryllis belladonna but this is an autumn flowering species with a short flowering period in March and April. Delphiniums and Hemerocallis are typically early summer flowering. Stern’s painting clearly depicts flowers borne on long upright pedicels with one bloom displaying a yellow throat, both features so characteristic of Hemerocallis but absent in Amaryllis.i

Stern arranged the flowers in an eighteenth-century Middle Eastern, Iznik enamel flask which is inscribed with “basmala” in Kufic, the oldest calligraphic form of the various Arabic scripts. It was a beloved object which appears in several still life paintings and in which she often stored her paintbrushes. It remains in her home, now the eponymous museum, where it can be seen in her studio.ii

i. All information on the flowers in this painting was supplied by Dr Rourke in conversation with Emma Bedford and an email dated 11 January 2011.
ii. Catalogue of the Collections of the Irma Stern Museum, University of Cape Town, 1971, number 458.


Marion Arnold, Irma Stern: A Feast for the Eye, Fernwood Press, 1995, p 125, illustrated in colour

Wilhelm van Rensberg and others, Irma Stern: Expressions of a Journey, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, 2003, p 180, illustrated in colour

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