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 47 796
Lot 889
  • Gladys Mgudlandlu; Cattle on a Hillside
  • Gladys Mgudlandlu; Cattle on a Hillside
  • Gladys Mgudlandlu; Cattle on a Hillside
  • Gladys Mgudlandlu; Cattle on a Hillside

Lot Estimate
ZAR 30 000 - 40 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 47 796

About this Item

South African 1925-1979
Cattle on a Hillside
gouache on paper
27 by 39cm excluding frame; 40 by 47 by 4cm including frame


The uncanny relationship between very similar, yet very separate lives of two of South Africa’s foremost artists, Gladys Mgudlandlu and Maggie Laubser was explored in a special Strauss & Co exhibition, mounted virtually during the 2020 RMB Turbine Art Fair in Johannesburg. The show focused on the visionary nature of their work, and the lives they led in parallel to each other.

Both Mgudlandlu and Laubser grew up in rural settings, in the Eastern and Western Cape respectively, and both artists’ families and wider communities derided their artistic inclinations. Both artists’ works and exhibitions were initially criticised. Mdgudlandlu’s were considered to be too innocent, naïve, and even escapist; Laubser’s were deemed too modern initially, and later, not modern enough!

These two artists shared a common subject matter, especially, but not exclusively the use of birds as central motifs: Mgudlandlu focused most often on flocks of birds and Laubser on statuesque cranes and water birds. They were both fond of portrait painting, with Mgudlandlu portraying rural Xhosa women, and Laubser, the urban bohemia of Berlin, and the rural working class in South Africa. They both highlighted the nature of labour in the South African landscape, Mgudlandlu introducing a gender dimension to cattle herding, and Laubser depicting various aspects of harvesting. Their painting styles were virtually synchronised, developing from strong, expressionist renderings, to highly abstract works. The shared a visionary, spiritual quality, both in their work and in their lives.


RMB Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg, Gladys Mgudlandlu and Maggie Laubser: Visionary Artists, Parallel Lives, 28 August to 2 September 2020, illustrated in colour on page 25 of the exhibition catalogue.

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