Irma Stern: Time|Line

Live Virtual Auction, 8 June 2022

Irma Stern: Time|Line
About the Session
Irma Stern: Time | Line is a single-artist sale of 140 lots devoted to this illustrious artist. The lots on offer range from oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, etchings, ceramics and books and are presented chronologically, featuring works made in every decade from 1920 until the artist’s death in 1966.
The auction includes 124 artworks from the Irma Stern Trust Collection. Proceeds from the sale of these works will benefit the Irma Stern Trust Collection, housed in the much-loved Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town. Income derived from the sale will strengthen the Irma Stern Trust Collection for the future by preserving the core collection and making it accessible by developing the existing Irma Stern Trust website into an important research resource. 

Sold for

ZAR 31 864
Lot 58
  • Irma Stern; Seated Woman
  • Irma Stern; Seated Woman
  • Irma Stern; Seated Woman
  • Irma Stern; Seated Woman
  • Irma Stern; Seated Woman

Lot Estimate
ZAR 10 000 - 15 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 31 864

About this Item

South African 1894-1966
Seated Woman

signed, dated 1951 and numbered 4; inscribed with the accession number in pencil on the reverse

etching on paper
image size: 15 by 12cm; sheet size: 17,5 by 13,5cm


In a letter of 23 December 1951, Stern wrote to Freda and Richard Feldman: “My work is much changed – I have been doing etching as something new entirely for me.”1

Stern produced a limited number of etchings in her career, predominantly in the year 1951, almost all of which are represented here (lots 58 to 69). This was shortly after purchasing a printing press, as noted in her list of expenses in the back of her ledger. The entry is not specifically dated but the context suggests that it was between May and September of 1951.2

Michael Godby notes in his recent exhibition catalogue, “There is a distinct religious quality in Stern’s etchings that echoes her search for spiritual values in other media at this time (see lots 59, 62, 64 and 67), and she seems to have turned to Rembrandt’s etchings as a model for both medium and style. Significantly, Stern owned a Rembrandt etching which was later sold from her estate […] Part of Stern’s search for spirituality at this time was to focus on her figures inner state rather than external description or narrative. […]

Stern’s further exploration of the medium was interrupted by a long trip to Europe from February 1952 and she seems to have made only one more etching. In 1954, she made the plate that has been given the title of Head of a Saint (lot 67 ) that would appear to continue the religious theme of the 1951 etchings but reduces the style to simple linear description – to a point that seems to question her choice to use the medium in the first place. By this time Stern was already exploring the potential of monotypes and she evidently abandoned etching for this very much more pictorial medium.”3

1. Michael Godby (2021) Irma Stern Nudes, 1916-1965, Cape Town: Primavera Publishing, page 132.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid, pages 133 and 134.


The Irma Stern Trust Collection, accession number 123/4.

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