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The allure of the landscape - Adolph Jentsch and the panoramas of Namibia

  24 October 2012     Archived

Strauss & Co will be offering two rare oils by acclaimed Namibian landscape painter, Adolph Jentsch, in the 12 November auction in Johannesburg.

Titled Schaf River mit Tigerrforte (pre-sale estimate R600 000 – 800 000) and Protea Fanvar (pre-sale estimate R400 000 – 600 000) respectively, both of these works are first class examples of Jentsch’s oeuvre.

Born and educated in Dresden, Germany, Jentsch arrived in Namibia in February 1938. The vast open spaces, dramatic colours and textures of the local landscape resonated immediately with Jentsch. Imbued with an energy stemming from the surrounding landscape, Jentsch began to paint and later that same year held the first of his solo exhibitions at the Grossherzog Hotel in Windhoek. Following this exhibition, he travelled around the southern parts of Namibia.

In Schotriver Mit Tigerrforte, painted in 1940, Jentsch has pared the Namibian vista down to a densely worked calligraphic pattern of brushstrokes in the foreground bleeding out into a limitless blue sky. “His style demanded enormous concentration because he seldom altered or obliterated a stroke,” explains Esmé Berman in The Story of South African Painting. More importantly, “Jentsch has distilled the essence rather than portrayed the features of the South West African landscape and is therefore regarded as the first significant interpreter of the region”. This work is presented in his original choice of frame.

Despite exhibiting extensively, Jentsch was reticent to part with his work. Those collectors lucky enough to have been able to purchase work from exhibitions or from him directly often became lifelong friends. Jentsch kept his accumulated paintings in a private gallery housed in a barn on the farm of close friends. Tragedy struck in 1975 when, two years before his death, a fire decimated the barn, destroying almost forty years’ worth of his output.

Both of these works are set to come under the hammer on 12 November 2012 at Strauss & Co’s auction to be held at the Johannesburg Country Club, Woodmead.

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