12 November 2012 Archived
The discovery of two exceptional paintings by Maggie Laubser, one out of the public eye for 80 years, is creating great interest amongst art lovers and collectors in anticipation of Strauss & Cos upcoming auction to be held at the Vineyard Hotel, Newlands, on 4 February 2013.
Laubser’s Portrait of a Girl with Geese (estimated to fetch between R1 500 000 – 2 000 000) and Still Life with Poppies (R350 000 – 500 000) are both examples of her early and much sought-after works. Both have been in the same family for several generations. The former was acquired from the 1930 exhibition organised by the Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurverenigings in Stellenbosch while the still life was purchased from the artist by Professor Pieter van Braam, Professor of Classics at Stellenbosch University.
Portrait of a Girl with Geese is one of the loveliest examples of the artist’s work ever to come on the market. The placement of the head to the left of centre, with her eyes looking to the right focuses our attention on the appealing child with her sweet features and directs us to the geese, creating an harmonious composition replete with the tranquillity and wholesomeness of the country life that Maggie so adored.
Born on the farm, Bloublommetjieskloof, Laubser developed a deep love of nature and a respect for all living things which is clearly communicated in her best paintings. After living and working on Lake Garda in Italy for two years, she returned to South Africa in 1920 before taking up residence in Berlin for a further two years, where she came into contact with the German Expressionists. In 1924 she was back home, settling on the farm Oortmanspost, near Klipheuwel in the Malmesbury District. There she began to develop her distinctive pastoral themes, often including portraits of the labourers and their families, contextualised within their milieu.
Laubser described her approach to her subject in an article published in Die Huisgenoot in 1939:
“I study it closely ... Then I have my impression and I’m free to paint. I must be free to paint; I feel bound if I have to repeatedly view the scene – then I lose my own vision of it. The painting must appear in the artist’s innermost being with consciousness of colours, forms and lines. We call this memory, but it is more than memory: it is the image that lives in your own consciousness, different for every person, alive as a bird, but unknown. No person can paint according to rules; it is a joy of the heart, a personal awakening” (translated by the author).
Still Life with Poppies, painted in 1920, can be compared with the paintings of Post-Impressionists like Vincent van Gogh who aimed to communicate their inner vision through the simplification of form and intensified colour. The painting is animated with bold colour contrasts, strong faceted forms and playful reflections. Paintings of such superb quality and provenance, with documented exhibition histories and literature, rarely come to the market these days.
Strauss & Co is still accepting fine art for the February auction until 30 November. With its successful sell-through rate of over 85% and its very reasonable commission, interested sellers are expected to consign many more top quality items. Art connoisseur and doyen of the auction world, Stephan Welz, will be in Cape Town to provide valuations on Wednesday 28 November. To make appointments with Mr Welz, please contact Ann Palmer or Emma Bedford on 021 683 6560.
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For purposes of quoting, the text on the works of art was written by Emma Bedford, Senior Art Specialist, Strauss & Co.
Bina Genovese, Executive Director +27 (0) 21 683 6560 / +27 (0) 78 044 8185