Live Virtual Auction, 8 - 11 November 2020

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Lot 387
  • Walter Battiss; Karoo Night
  • Walter Battiss; Karoo Night
  • Walter Battiss; Karoo Night
  • Walter Battiss; Karoo Night
  • Walter Battiss; Karoo Night

Lot Estimate
ZAR 200 000 - 300 000
Selling Price

About this Item

South African 1906-1982
Karoo Night
signed; inscribed with the title in pencil on the stretcher
oil on canvas
39 by 34cm excluding frame; 58 by 53,5 by 4cm including frame


Walter Battiss was a child of the Karoo. Born in Somerset East, on the eastern edge of this vast semi-desert, his family relocated to Koffiefontein in the Upper Karoo when the economic fallout of WW1 abruptly ended trade at his family’s private hotel. Battiss and his brother, Alfred, were sent ahead to an uncle’s farm. When his father secured a job as a bookkeeper in Koffiefontein, Battiss relocated to town. The young Battiss thought the mining town ugly. He nonetheless found consolation in the Riet River. In his book Limpopo (1965) Battiss recalls: ‘It was a paradise of pleasures: swimming, fishing, boating, bird-nesting, hunting, boyish adventures, and dangers of every kind.’1 This joyous and characteristically sybaritic work evokes these youthful indulgences. Notwithstanding its vertical format, Battiss is able to conjure the wide-scale panorama of the Karoo with his horizontal brushstrokes. The green-brown sky with its sickle moon is also faithful to his description of a Karoo moon ‘floating in jasper sun-dust’.2

1.  Walter Battiss (1965) Limpopo, Pretoria: Van Schaik, page 10.

2.  Ibid., page 9.


Strauss & Co, Cape Town, 21 October 2013, lot 728.

The Tasso Foundation Collection of Important South African Art assembled by the Late Giulio Bertrand of Morgenster Estate.

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