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

Live Auction, 7 March 2011

Paintings

Sold for

ZAR 3 342 000
Lot 252
  • Irma Stern; Still Life with Camellias


Lot Estimate
ZAR 3 000 000 - 4 000 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 3 342 000

About this Item

South African 1894-1966
Still Life with Camellias

signed and dated 1940

oil on canvas
57 by 47,5cm excluding frame

Notes

This still life of beautiful blooms, luxuriant foliage and a simple ceramic confirms Irma Stern’s ability to achieve extraordinary effects with a minimum of means. The painting displays both the delight she took in savouring bold and subtle colour combinations and her ability to manipulate complementary colours to astonishing visual effect. A chartreuse background and a teal-toned ceramic provide the perfect foil from which the Camellias project in a glorious array of reds ranging from cool crimsons to warm vermilions through to deep burgundies in the flowers and cerise tones in the foreground fabric.

Confident flourishes of impasto paint and assured brushwork define and emphasise the forms. In both the selection of the objects and in her interpretation of the subject, Stern’s highly-refined sensibility is evident.

The flowers depicted here are Camellia japonica “Grand Sultan”, an old Belgian cultivar from the 1840s, which was commonly planted in Cape gardens from late Victorian times into the twentieth century. A number of large specimens are growing near Stern’s home, The Firs in Rosebank, now the University of Cape Town Irma Stern Museum. Several huge specimens of “Grand Sultan” were planted by Cecil John Rhodes in his Camellia walk on the University of Cape Town’s campus off Lovers Walk in Rondebosch, and are still thriving after 120 years.i

i. All information on the flowers in this painting was supplied by Dr john Rourke in conversation with Emma Bedford and an email dated 11 January 2011.
 

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