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Pierneef on a Grand Scale

  7 September 2013     Archived

The 1920s represented a period of experimentation and innovation for Jacob Hendrik Pierneef.

JH Pierneef - Die Wynkelder

In 1925 he travelled to Europe, met Anton Hendriks (who became Director of the Johannesburg Art Gallery from 1937 – 1966) and invited him to South Africa. During this trip he also met the Dutch theorist, Willem van Konijnenburg, whose ideas on achieving harmony, balance and unity through the application of mathematical proportion, linear rhythm and simplified form, became the foundation for the artist’s mature style.

Consequently, Pierneef began shifting away from his earlier more spontaneous impressionist-influenced paintings towards a style that sought to emphasise the underlying structure of nature and the built environment rather than the effects of light on varying surfaces. Die Wynkelder occupies a unique position in this development in that it employs aspects of these two very diverse approaches, allowing us to witness how the artist crafted his new style.

In 1929 it was announced that Pierneef had received the commission for the mural-panels to be installed at the new Johannesburg railway station. These brought him to wider public attention and set the standard by which he would be measured. Die Wynkelder, with its impressive scale, may also be viewed as a study for these panels which came to define the characteristic style for which he became renowned.


This painting was on loan to The Alphen Hotel from 2001 until 2013.

Text by Emma Bedford, Senior Art Specialist, Strauss & Co

Jacob Hendrik Pierneef

Die Wynkelder
oil on canvas
174 by 158cm
R 2,000,000 - 4,000,000


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