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Rare Portrait of Childhood by Peter Clarke at Strauss Auction

  10 September 2015     Archived

In a long career spanning 85 years, Peter Clarke produced remarkably few portraits of children making this Portrait of a Young Boy a rare find.

Excited by the discovery, his biographers have offered the following insights by correspondence. From New Zealand, where she is Professor of Art History at The University of Auckland, Elizabeth Rankin says, "What an interesting work! … It does indeed look like a portrait of which there are not that many in Peter's oeuvre". And, according to Philippa Hobbs, "This is an exquisite work. A perfectly-crafted face, painted at speed".

The use of gouache as a medium would have enabled the artist to produce a rapid likeness of his sitter. But given the deep understanding of childhood embodied in this portrait, there's no doubt that, in the process of its production, Clarke would have reflected on his own youth. In his preface to the monograph authored by Hobbs and Rankin, Clarke returns to his childhood: "When I was a child I used to wonder about space and time and the beating of my heart. I used to wonder about life and death and what it would be like to be invisible. I wondered and still wonder about a whole variety of things. For instance now at eighty-one years of age the child in me is still awed by the sound of distant thunder".

With his serious intensity and alert eyes that hold the gaze of the viewer with curiosity and caution, Peter Clarke's Portrait of a Young Boy is one of the most insightful portraits of childhood to come to the art market in South Africa. It is to be offered at R180 000 - 240 000 at Strauss & Co's auction on 12 October to be held at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands./p>

Peter Clarke [1929-2014]

Portrait of a Young Boy

Signed and dated 15.3.1972

Gouache on paper

48 by 35,5cm

R180 000 - 240 000

Media contact:
Bina Genovese, 021 683 6560/083 680 9944

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