Press Office

Maud Sumner – "a sound investment"

  10 May 2010     Archived

Maud Sumner, one of South Africa's most underrated artists, makes a fine showing at the forthcoming Strauss & Co auction of Important British, Continental and South African Paintings and Sculpture which takes place on 24 May in Johannesburg. According to Stephan Welz, Managing Director of Strauss & Co, South Africa's leading fine art auction house, "Maud Sumner is an underpriced South African artist whose work makes a sound investment".

The auction offers no less than 10 works by the illustrious Sumner and buyers can chose from a selection of media at a range of prices starting at R20 000 for a watercolour of Great Zimbabwe to major oil paintings produced at the peak of her career.

Maud Sumner was an educated, articulate and independent woman who, in many ways, was ahead of her time. In 1922 she was awarded her MA in Literature from Oxford University and went on to study art in London and Paris. Inspired by her teacher, Maurice Denis, the leading theorist of the Nabi movement, her paintings share the thoughtful and sensitive painterliness found in the works of the Intimists, Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard. These qualities are apparent in her interiors with figures, one of which is an arresting self portrait of the artist, dressed in her painting smock, holding her paint brushes and looking engagingly at the viewer (R120 000 – 160 000).

Paysage Écossais (R500 000 – 800 000) provides a lyrical interpretation of a Scots landscape and loch, drawing on the formal language of the early Analytical Cubist paintings of Picasso and Braque. Thames at Sunset (estimate R300 000 – 500 000), is a study in reflections, with the liquid subtleties of colour articulated by fine drawing, showing the impact of those Cubists as translated through British artists like John Piper.

Dividing her time between the artistic capitals of London and Paris and her Johannesburg home, Sumner was captivated by the aerial landscapes over which she flew. A mountainous snowy landscape (R100 000 – 150 000) and an aerial view of the desert (R180 000 – 240 000) are breathtaking ethereal paintings that allowed her to explore new directions in abstraction while also expressing an ineffable spirituality.

[Text drafted by Emma Bedford, Senior Paintings Specialist]

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