Record R1.2m Price for Painting by John Meyer

South Africa’s leading contemporary realist artist, John Meyer achieved a new record for one of his paintings last night (July 22) when ‘Waterberg Wanderings’ sold for R1.2m (£60,000) at a packed charity auction at Bonhams in New Bond Street, London.

The money raised goes to Prince William’s charity Tusk which works to save the African elephant and rhino. The sale  took place on the opening night of an exhibition of John Meyer’s work, a Boer War themed Exhibition sponsored by Investec.

This charitable auction, part of Tusk’s 25th Anniversary will raise funds for the charity’s key conservation projects, including efforts to save the Waterberg Rhino

Bonhams and Investec presented “Lost in the Dust”; an exhibition celebrating a powerful series of narrative paintings of the Anglo-Boer War by John Meyer, South Africa’s leading contemporary realist artist. On public viewing at Bonhams from 22 July in London, this is the first time this collection has exhibited outside of Africa.

The exhibition is unusual in many respects, not least for being a vision of war from the perspective of the vanquished; normally the ‘truth’ of war is written and painted by the victors.

Set against the dramatic and hauntingly beautiful backdrop of the South African landscape, these fifteen works by Meyer offer a personal and compelling look into how war affects individual relationships and captures the raw emotion of the people swept up in it. The paintings weave history, imagination and narrative into a multi-layered realm that deals with the tragedy of war. They are at once compelling, delicate, emotional and foreboding.

The exhibition is open to public viewing from Wednesday 22 July to 30 July in London, and in Edinburgh from 11 August to 20 August.

Francois Pienaar, former Springbok captain and rugby legend, an enthusiast of Meyer’s work, says: “John Meyer captures the truth of the South African landscape as few artists can, his images touch me deeply. This particular collection of works about the Boer War ‎is powerful. It is a part of our history that remains a source of great sadness, but also of pride, that as a people we survived. Meyer’s genius is that he captures the suffering of both sides and of the civilians caught in the middle compelling one to think again about our history.”

Tusk’s Royal Patron, Prince William, has spoken of his commitment to Tusk and Africa: “I have been captivated by Africa ever since my first visit as a teenager, to the extent that I now consider it as my second home. To me, there is something awe-inspiring and magical about what most embodies this diverse continent: its people, landscape and wildlife. … I was initially drawn to Tusk by its innovative and holistic approach and its unwavering certainty that conservation is as much about people and community programmes as it is about wildlife protection.”

Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African art at Bonhams, says of these works: “John Meyer is without doubt the leading exponent of South African realist art. He takes up where Pierneef leaves off. Meyer’s landscapes are less romantic and bleaker and absolutely capture the vastness of this sun-scorched land. These fifteen paintings are fascinating in that they marry his absolute mastery of landscape with his great theme of the tragedy of war. This exhibition will bring Meyer to the attention of a much wider audience which is what he deserves. Investec are to be complimented in facilitating the interest in African art that will result from this exhibition”.

Charlie Mayhew, CEO of Tusk said, “We are delighted that John Meyer has donated a unique, never before seen piece in aid of conservation and protection of wildlife. At Tusk we work to forge a link between the preservation of Africa’s natural heritage, its landscapes and wildlife, and the future of its land and people. It is this inextricable relationship, between a nation and its land, that attracted us to this project and we look forward to the reception.”

Image: John Meyer with Waterberg Wanderings