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Leading artists’ works make rare public appearance on auction

Works by two of South Africa’s most renowned artists make rare public appearances when they go on sale this month by Stephan Welz & Co. for the first time at an auction.

Seychelles Girl by Alexis Preller has not been seen in public for several decades and Winterveld by Jacob Henrik Pierneef has remained in the family of the current owner since it was first purchased. The works go on the Stephan Welz & Co. Fine Art and Design auction in Johannesburg on April 29 and 30.

Preller - RSSigned and dated ’49, the oil on canvas painting by Preller (1911 -1975) being auctioned for the first time is a sensitive depiction of a young Seychelles woman painted during the period when the artist visited the Indian Ocean island. Stephan Welz & Co. is offering the work with an estimated price of R1 million to R1.5 million. 

The signed painting by Pierneef (1886-1957), widely regarded as South Africa’s most renowned landscape artist, depicts the Winterveld area north of Pretoria. “The use of light and colour is particularly evocative and is a very desirable example of the artist’s work,” says Stephen Welz & Co. fine art specialist Luke Crossley. The estimated price is R600 000 to R900 000.

Pierneef - RSAnother work likely to find wide appeal at the Stephan Welz & Co. auction is THINKING ALOUD, SMALL THOUGHTS, a complete set of nine drypoint prints on copper plate, by William Joseph Kentridge with an estimated price of R200 000 – R300 000.

Kentridge, who celebrates his 64th birthday on the day before the auction, created the set of prints during the time that he worked on his production of The Magic Flute opera. The work features many references to the opera, including Baroque scenery, the disordered universe of the Queen of the Night and Cockney rhyming slang, alongside several references to photographic positives and negatives.

Kentridge-1 - RSBelgian-born South African artist and much-loved art teacher in Cape Town, Maurice Van Essche (1906 – 1977) is well represented on the auction through his signed oil on canvas STILL LIFE WITH TEAPOT. With an estimated price of R150 000 to R200 000, Stephan Welz & Co. describes the work as “beautifully honest and almost poetic” and an excellent example of the artist’s technique, featuring delicate lines and a sensitive understanding of the play of light and shadow”.


Two South African master sculptors feature on the auction. The bronze SEATED FIGURE by Sydney Alex Kumalo (1935 – 1988) is as excellent example of the sculptors understanding of form and balance. Signed and numbered as 3/5, the provenance of the sculpture is strong, with the work coming from the family of the artist. The estimated price is R250 000 – R350 000.

Kumalo - SAn equally good example of an artist’s technique is the bronze STANDING FIGURE by Edoardo Villa (1915 – 2011) with an estimated price of R120 000 – R160 000.

The Stephan Welz & Co. Fine Art & Design Auction takes place on April 29 and 30 at Killarney Country Club, 60, 5th Street, Lower Houghton, Johannesburg. Previews are held on April 26, 27 and 28 from 10am to 5pm. A walkabout will be conducted by Luke Crossley on Saturday April 27 from 11am – everyone is welcome, there is no fee to attend.

For more information: Stephan Welz & Co. on Instagram @StephanWelzCo or like them on Facebook