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Property from the Rodwell House Collection


  5 October 2015     Archived


Property from the Rodwell House Collection to be included in Strauss & Co's Auction of Important South African and International Art, Furniture, Decorative Arts and Jewellery, Cape Town 12 October 2015

Renowned period home Rodwell House in St James, built for Randlord 'Lucky Jim' JB Taylor, was acquired in 2005 by Robin von Holdt and Gavin Watkins. Their aim was to develop the property into a successful and highly regarded five star boutique hotel. Key to this initiative was to offer guests a compelling experience that included the appreciation of fine South African art and original Cape furniture. The property was furnished handsomely with fine pieces from Robin and Gavin's private collections, that had each been built up over the past three decades. The hotel achieved a steady stream of stellar guests from around the world and it enjoyed a top international reputation. Part of this achievement was to win an acclaimed 'top 10 global hotels art collection' recognition from Amex USA in 2009.

The impending retirement of one of the partners abroad regrettably necessitated a change in direction. This lead to the successful sale of the property, continuing its life as one of the Cape's most desirable destination hotels.

The art collection includes a wide selection of works by no less than eleven of South Africa's top artists, including JH Pierneef, Jean Welz, Maurice van Essche, Francois Krige, Cecil Higgs, Eleanor Esmonde-White and Alexander Rose-Inns. There are two early paintings by Pierneef, one was done when the Pierneefs were returning from Europe in 1926 on a sea voyage down the East Coast of Africa, calling in at various ports en route. This gave Pierneef an opportunity to go ashore in order to capture the local scenery. In Mission Station, East Africa the artist displays the naissance of his technique with the cumulonimbus clouds which were to characterise so many of his later paintings, while the trees in Landscape with Two Cottages are the precursors of what were to become his signature trees.

Lot 498

JH Pierneef

Mission Station, East Africa

Property from the Rodwell House Collection

R800 000 - 1 200 000

Lot 310

A West Coast cedarwood and stinkwood inlaid cupboard, 19th century

R150 000 - 200 000

The two paintings by Francois Krige are examples of his mastery not only of the South African landscape but also his prowess in interpreting a simple still life. Barrydale in 1932 is depicted as hardly more than a hamlet, with a few buildings nestling amongst the orchards and vineyards on a hot summer's day, while the robust Still Life with Quinces has all the qualities to satisfy even the most discerning artistic palate.

Eleanor Esmonde-White's row of peasant women in Olive Pickers, Corfu, picking olives off the ground as their ancestors have done since time began, was executed whilst the artist lived in Greece in the early 1980s. This painting has all the qualities one seeks in an Esmonde-White, the plump arms of the pickers, their impassive expressions and the symmetry of the composition all combining to make this a most satisfying work. Other artists represented are Charles Rolando, Hugo Naudé, Ruth Prowse and Gladys Mgudlandlu.

The most important piece of Cape furniture in the collection is undoubtedly the cedarwood and stinkwood cupboard from the West Coast, inlaid with the initials J and N within a chequerboard border. According to Robin, he first met Anna Redelinghuis, the former owner, in 1984 at her property in Tulbagh. He recalls her introducing him to her private collection of antiques, "It was this double door inlaid cedarwood cupboard that immediately attracted my attention. Later, over a cup of tea, during which I expressed my interest, Anna said she had had her eyes on a 'hanging' linen press for years, so that when guests stayed over, they could hang up their clothes. They then agreed that, in the event that Anna ever got the cupboard that she wished for, she would give me the first option on her own cupboard. A short while later during 1985, the double transaction took place, much to both parties' profound happiness".

Clearly under Gavin's influence and guidance, Robin's eye was attracted to Cape furniture with distinguished inlays as is demonstrated by the fine chequerboard borders in the Cape stinkwood and yellowwood 'de Rust' kist. The collection, although small, comprises pieces that are functional as well as historically significant. Further pieces include a Neo-Classical yellowwood and stinkwood gate-leg dining table, an assembled set of six transitional chairs, and a 19th century linen press.

Strauss & Co is indeed privileged to have been given the mandate to auction property from the Rodwell House collection.

Strauss & Co is South Africa's leading fine art auction house and the global leader in the South African art market. With an average turnover per annum of over R155 million and an average sell-through rate of over 80%, Strauss & Co has sold 9, of the 10, most expensive paintings ever auctioned in South Africa and holds numerous artist's records. Strauss & Co is founded on exceptional expertise and prestigious presentation and is synonymous with top quality art, decorative arts and jewellery. Strauss & Co was established in 2008 by celebrated figures in the business world, Elisabeth Bradley and Dr Conrad Strauss, and art doyen Stephan Welz, with the purpose of placing auctioneering on a plane worthy of the best South Africa has to offer in both the fine and decorative arts.

Media contact:
Bina Genovese, bina@straussart.co.za 021 683 6560/083 680 9944


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