Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Jewellery and Fine Wine

Live Virtual Auction, 8 - 11 November 2020

The Tasso Foundation Collection
  • Robert Hodgins; A Flower Brooch
  • Robert Hodgins; A Flower Brooch
  • Robert Hodgins; A Flower Brooch
  • Robert Hodgins; A Flower Brooch

Lot Estimate
ZAR 180 000 - 240 000

About this Item

South African 1920-2010
A Flower Brooch

signed, dated 2002 and inscribed with the title and medium on the reverse

oil and graphite on canvas
45 by 45cm excluding frame; 50 by 50 by 4cm including frame


In the main, it is the men in Robert Hodgins’ work who are portrayed wearing finery, from clubby tailored suits and constricting bowties to the silk sashes, medals and service ribbons associated with military power. By contrast, the dour women in his paintings look like escapees from the boarding houses and suburban homes of interwar England. Often on the sunset side of 50, they come swaddled in large coats and have short, curly poodle hairstyles. The pink-cheeked sitter in this portrait is, in certain respects, typical, but for the brooch. Evocative of the centenary rose brooch created for the 100th birthday of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and worn in her honour by her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, shortly after her death in 2002, the brooch is a marker of power as much as refinement. ‘The brooch is key for political messaging,’ wrote jewellery historian Carol Woolton. ‘High-profile women frequently use a brooch as an avatar for their frame of mind.’¹ When British judge Lady Brenda Hale declared Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament unlawful, she wore a golden spider brooch. Also in 2019, when Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, she wore a shiny Stars and Stripes brooch. Rather than being an outlier in his oeuvre, this singular portrait comfortably slots into Hodgins’ archive of grandees rendered in their power costumes.

1.  Carol Woolton (2019) ‘The Quiet Power of a Well-Placed Brooch’, British Vogue, 26 September, 


Stephan Welz & Co in association with Sotheby’s, Johannesburg, 21 November 2005, lot 420.

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

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