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

Live Virtual Auction, 8 - 11 November 2020

Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art Part II

Sold for

ZAR 2 845 000
Lot 884
  • Alexis Preller; Thrones of Heaven
  • Alexis Preller; Thrones of Heaven
  • Alexis Preller; Thrones of Heaven
  • Alexis Preller; Thrones of Heaven

Lot Estimate
ZAR 1 800 000 - 2 400 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 2 845 000

About this Item

South African 1911-1975
Thrones of Heaven

signed and dated '66

oil and gesso on canvas
101,5 by 86,5cm excluding frame; 108,5 by 93 by 4,5cm including frame


In 1966 Preller was spending extended periods at his home, Dombeya, at Hartbeespoort, designed by his friend, architect Norman Eaton, and named after the indigenous wild pear trees with their rounded clusters of exquisitely perfumed flowers which hang beneath the leaves. He enjoyed inviting guests to the newly-built accommodation and opening up his studio for the viewing of his latest output, setting a theatrical scene with strutting peacocks and spotted guinea fowl.

‘His paintings at this time were dominated by two themes: one being the myths of Ancient Greece; the other, the astral themes – the galaxies and constellations – that had captured the imagination of earthlings of the Space Age (see figures 1-3). Because the myths of most early cultures were created to explain the mysteries of the cosmos, there were inevitable associations between the two themes. Stylistically, the emphasis was on non-figurative form and, technically, Alexis was continuing to explore procedures of using gold and silver leaf in conjunction with gestural application of impasto swirls of paint.’1

The present lot, like Gold Chariot of the Sun, is typical of the works produced at this time, significant in that

they did not begin with a drawing of any image. The forms are a product of the process. The jewel-like turquoise reflects the iridescent plumage displayed in the peacock’s tail, a backdrop to the golden swirls of galaxies energetically punctuated by crimson and yellow orbs. ‘How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.’ – Vincent Van Gogh.

1. Esmé Berman and Karel Nel (2009) Africa, the Sun and Shadows (vol. 1), Johannesburg: Shelf, page 266.


Die Kunskamer, Cape Town.

Private Collection.


 Exhibited Johannesburg. Graham's Fine Art Gallery. 30 March – 30 April 2006. “Between Foothold and Flight


Sean O'Toole (ed) (2006) Between Foothold and Flight, catalogue number 3, Johannesburg: Graham's Fine Art Gallery, page 84 and illustrated in colour on pages 85 to 87.

View all Alexis Preller lots for sale in this auction

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