Luxury and collectability are hallmarks of each of the 928 lots of visual art, decorative arts, furniture, jewellery and fine wine featured in Strauss & Co’s forthcoming marquee sale, NORTH/SOUTH (8-11 November 2020). Spread over four days and composed of eight curated sessions, this dynamic hybrid auction features a number of rare and high-value lots of particular interest to discriminating collectors.
One of the highlights of the Tasso Foundation Collection of important South African art assembled by the late Giulio Bertrand of Morgenster, due to be sold on Monday 9 November at 7pm, is Irma Stern’s 1948 marine landscape The Grand Canal, Venice (estimate R5 – R7 million). Stern represented South Africa at four editions of the Venice Biennale in the 1950s.
Long established as South Africa’s foremost artist at auction, international interest in Stern is once again in the ascendency. The artist is the subject of two new international monographs – by American art historian, LaNitra Berger, and South African critic, Sean O’Toole – as well as features in a new novel by best-selling Swedish author, Jonas Jonasson.
Also consigned by the Tasso Foundation Collection, Stanley Pinker’s The Bathers (estimate R800 000 – R1 200 000), a magical homage to Paul Cézanne, represents the apogee of this quietly influential artist’s earlier painting style.
Frolicking bathers also form the subject of one of the more unusual lots in the NORTH/SOUTH catalogue, Stern’s two glass fireplace panels featuring Matisse-like figures (estimate R1 – R2 million) created by the artist for her friends and patrons, Richard and Freda Feldman.
The role of dealers and collectors in supporting artists and championing taste is frequently acknowledged in the provenance notes for works listed in the beautiful, three-part NORTH/SOUTH catalogue. For instance, the Tasso Foundation Collection includes a painting, Highway Dream (estimate R20 000 – R30 000), by Cape artist and dealer Joe Wolpe, who died in October 2020.
Among his many achievements Wolpe in 1966 presented a survey of Stern’s work at his then new gallery; it was also her last solo show before her death. Wolpe also previously owned British sculptor Lynn Chadwick’s bronze Standing Figure (estimate R300 000 – R500 000), part of an outstanding consignment of English and South African bronzes in NORTH/SOUTH.
Highlights from the bronze offerings include the only known edition of Sydney Kumalo’s Madala 1 (Estimate R500 000 – R700 000), consigned by the Late Desmond Fisher Collection; Ezrom Legae’s African Goat/She Goat, a unique pairing of two late-career goat sculptures from 1990 (estimate R2.5 – R3 million); and five Big Cat sculptures by Dylan Lewis, among them Sitting Cheetah II, a 125cm bronze made in 2005 (estimate R1 – R1.5 million). NORTH/SOUTH includes a total of ten lots by Lewis.
Collectors will benefit from the depth of works available by, Walter Battiss, Robert Hodgins, Maggie Laubser, Esther Mahlangu, George Pemba, J.H. Pierneef and Alexis Preller. NORTH/SOUTH includes three sedulous early Pemba watercolours from the 1940s, as well as Assassination of Shaka Zulu (estimate R400 000 – R600 000), an oil work from 1973 that depicts an important historical event in allegorical terms.
Preller’s Thrones of Heaven from 1966 (estimate R1.8 – R2.4 million), a mesmerising abstraction featuring gestural swirls of paint, the impasto overlaid with gold leaf, is one of three important works by this artist on offer. Craters (estimate R1.8 – R2.4 million) is an astonishing intaglio that affirms Preller’s experimental painting style, while Archangel (estimate R1.5 – R2 million), a profile study, was shown on the artist’s final exhibition at dealer Linda Givon’s Goodman Gallery.
One of the innovations of the forthcoming NORTH/SOUTH sale is Interiors, a combined session devoted to art, furniture and decorative arts, due to be held on Monday 9 November at 2pm. Session highlights include J.H. Pierneef’s Still Life with Pelargoniums (estimate R300 000 – R400 000), a compelling detour into the still life genre by this master landscape painter, as well as two René Lalique Source de la Fontaine moulded glass figures from 1924.
The Interiors session includes a number of exceptional pieces from the deceased estate of a European collector who had retired to South Africa. They include an assembly of German clear and engraved glass flasks, ewers and drinking vessels, as well as a bespoke walnut pipe cabinet by Alfred Dunhill replete with 366 unique wooden pipes featuring gold decorative embellishments (estimate R200 000 – R300 000). An 18th-century Cape stinkwood and satinwood armoire formerly owned by collectors Punch and Cynthia Barlow (estimate R600 000 – R800 000) leads the Cape furniture consignments.
NORTH/SOUTH commences on Sunday 8 November at 11am with a session devoted to a single-owner collection of the most hallowed wines of Burgundy and the northern Rhône, including lots from Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils, Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüe and Domaine de la Romaneé-Conti. Fine wine is a recent addition to the Strauss & Co auction portfolio and is a result of a partnership with Wine Cellar fine wine merchants and expert sommelier Higgo Jacobs. The sale concludes on Wednesday, 11 November at 7pm with a session devoted to modern, post-war and contemporary art.
NORTH/SALE will be livestreamed to bidders from two sales venues in Cape Town (Brickfield Canvas, 35 Brickfield Road, Woodstock) and Johannesburg (89 Central Street, Houghton). There is an option of in-person bidding at both venues. Collectors wishing to attend the auction must confirm their attendance in advance: Cape Town firstname.lastname@example.org and Johannesburg email@example.com. Covid-19 safety protocols apply throughout.