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

Live Virtual Auction, 8 - 11 November 2020

The Tasso Foundation Collection
  • Fred Page; The Wolpe Gallery C.T.
  • Fred Page; The Wolpe Gallery C.T.
  • Fred Page; The Wolpe Gallery C.T.
  • Fred Page; The Wolpe Gallery C.T.
  • Fred Page; The Wolpe Gallery C.T.

Lot Estimate
ZAR 120 000 - 160 000

About this Item

South African 1908-1984
The Wolpe Gallery C.T.

signed, dated '71 and inscribed 'To: Joe, From: Fred, with Love ...'; inscribed with the title, medium and dedication 'With love from Fred' on a label and a Wolpe Gallery label adhered to the reverse

polymer on paper laid down on board
101 by 59,5cm excluding frame


According to Andrea Lewis, Curator of Prints and Drawings at Iziko South African National Gallery and curator of When Cape Art was Coffee with Joe at the South African Jewish Museum in 2008:

‘Joe Wolpe, already an established and respected art connoisseur and dealer, opened his Strand Street gallery opposite the Grand Hotel in 1966, with the massive landmark exhibition Fifty Years of Irma Stern. It was Stern’s last commercial exhibition (the top price was 500 guineas), drawing a wider audience and bringing in many customers who became life-long clients and friends. Open to artists who presented a spectrum of diverse ideas, subject matter and techniques, Joe introduced works to the curious and ever-growing audience by recognised artists of the older vanguard like John Dronsfield, Douglas Portway, Cecil Higgs, Paul du Toit, May Hillhouse, Eleanor Esmonde-White and Lippy Lipshitz, and unearthed artists such as Fred Page and Charles Gassner, whose careers Joe unleashed.

He had discovered Page in Port Elizabeth, and helped him enormously, even driving to Port Elizabeth to bring Page to Cape Town. They shared a vivid passion for the visual aesthetics of District Six, taking photographs incessantly to capture the spirit of this place and get inspiration for their own art work. [...] 

Strand Street is where Joe developed many long-term client relationships with those who came to view the works of the local and international artists whom Joe promoted, to discuss modern art and steep themselves in the literature he made available including the latest monographs, journals and auction catalogues. They appreciated Joe as a man of principle, who was open to new influences and experiences, and was generous in sharing his latest discoveries. Joe, in turn, saw the purpose of his gallery as being to raise the level of taste and acceptance of modern trends. He believed that exhibitions should build up young artists as well as a generation of emerging prospective buyers.

Understanding what artists were trying to achieve, Joe could, with sensitivity and intuition, translate that into real terms for the public. All of this brought a breath of fresh air to the stuffy atmosphere of the local art market.

Joe’s adventure with art was not confined to his own gallery. His relationship with the South African National Gallery (SANG) was a platform for him to express his idealism and share his encyclopaedic knowledge with a broader audience. February 1968 saw the birth of an organization, Friends of the National Gallery (FONG), to support the South African National Gallery in its endeavours and help purchase works to enrich its collection. FONG rapidly became a tower of strength for the Gallery. Joe Wolpe was one of its founder members.

The Wolpe Gallery continued its operations in Strand Street until 1973 when he moved his premises. In 1976 Joe was responsible for curating the National Gallery’s Wolf Kibel Retrospective which many art lovers still remember. Other exhibitions followed. As a tribute to his vision and achievements, Joe was awarded the Cape Arts Medal by the South African Association of Arts in 1984 for his service to visual art, the only art dealer ever to have been honoured in this manner. His visionary view of the world and his pioneering enterprise resulted in a legacy that has profoundly impacted the long-term dynamics of the art world and market in South Africa.


Joe Wolpe, Cape Town.

Strauss & Co, Cape Town, 17 March 2014, lot 728.

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


Jeanne Wright and Cecil Kerbel (2011) Fred Page: Ringmaster of the Imagination, Port Elizabeth: Cecil Kerbel and Jeanne Wright, illustrated in colour on page 51, plate 108.

View all Fred Page lots for sale in this auction

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