Four singular artists bolster Strauss & Co’s R80-million Johannesburg sale

Biggest art auction to be held in Southern Africa with paintings worth over R80 million at Strauss & Co set to break records

Museum quality masterwork paintings by South Africa’s leading artists set to take Strauss & Co’s sale to record breaking levels

A feast of 11 Irma Sterns; 17 Pierneeefs; 9 Maggie Laubsers;
5 Alexis Prellers and a Tribute to Unsung Artists with a selection
of their work on sale

Strauss & Co is proud to announce its largest-ever live auction by value, with combined estimates for its 12 November sale in Johannesburg exceeding R80 million. The sale has 26 lots with estimates of R1 million or more, and includes works of astonishing range and depth by notable modernist painters Maggie Laubser, JH Pierneef, Alexis Preller and Irma Stern.

Irma Stern: Portrait of a Mary Cramer 1941 (Estimate R5 – 7 million)

Stern’s 1941 portrait of a Mary Cramer, a sister of the artist’s confidante, Freda Feldman, carries the sale’s highest estimate (estimate R5 – 7 million). This extraordinary portrait, notes art historian Federico Freschi, was once displayed in Feldman’s emerald-green dining room and captures “the complexities and contradictions that lie beneath the masks of outward appearance”.

The Johannesburg sale features 11 lots by Stern. They include a fine selection of her society and travel portraits, notably the gouache works Congo Woman from 1942 (estimate R2 – 3 million) and Lady of the Harem from 1945 (estimate R3 – 4 million). Stern also excelled in the still life genre. Notable works in this category include Still Life with Irises from 1941 (estimate R4 – 5 million) and the sumptuous Still Life with Watermelon, Flowers and Grapes from 1933 (estimate 1.8 – 2.4 million).

Pierneef Lowveld Eastern Transvaal (estimate R3 – 4 million)

Stern is the top-selling artist at Strauss & Co’s auctions, followed by JH Pierneef who has 17 works on the present sale. Best known for his expertly choreographed South African scenes, including Farm Jonkershoek with Twin Peaks Beyond, Stellenbosch, which sold for R20.46 million at a 2017 Strauss & Co sale achieving a world record for the artist, the forthcoming sale includes two stylised and highly uncommon landscapes depicting foreign landscapes from his travels .Cinnamon Mill, Seychelles (estimate R4 – 5 million) is an unusual post-impressionist study of tropical abundance. It was painted in 1954 during a holiday, long after Pierneef first heard of the East African island from his mentor, Frans Oerder. Dar es Salam (estimate R4 – 6 million) is a verdant townscape complete with Pierneef’s ever-present cumulus cloud formations looming on the horizon.

The sale includes two exceptional casein landscapes from 1928, both linked to the Schweickerdt family in Pretoria, works that distil Pierneef’s genius talent for rendering place. Lowveld Eastern Transvaal (estimate R3 – 4 million) is a mesmerising kaleidoscope of acutely observed natural colours, while Willow Trees, Roodeplaat Dam, (estimate R2 – 3 million) is a mosaic of autumnal colours

Maggie Laubser : Harvesters in Wheatfield (estimate R2 – 3 million)


We are privileged to be offering five oils by pioneering expressionist Maggie Laubser from the Estate of a Gentleman. The impeccable consignment includes her study of labour, Harvesters in Wheatfield (estimate
R2 – 3 million) which features on the cover of Dalene Marais’ catalogue raisonne’ of the artist and forms an important part of our offering of nine Laubser lots.

Pierneef’s precise draughtsmanship was the bedrock of his esteemed painting practice. Collectors will delight in his three works depicting tobacconist Lodewijk de Jager & Co, Tobacconist Shop, where the artist worked in the early 1900s; the two watercolours and a pencil drawing capture Pierneef’s fine sense for architectural detail (sold as one lot, estimate R200 000 – 300 000).

Alexis Preller has in recent years become a sought-after artist at auction. In 2010, Strauss & Co registered the first upswing in value of Preller’s work when it sold The Flower King, a late-period metaphorical portrait from 1970, for R 2.89 million. Preller has five lots on sale in Johannesburg, including Apple II, a late-career intaglio with painted hollow that was produced in 1969 (estimate R4 – 5 million). African Profile (R1 – 1.5 million) dates from the start of Preller’s Gold period in 1965.

Two years ago, Strauss & Co successfully brought a number of important Prellers to market, some owned by prominent collector Walter Hardebeck. We are delighted to be offering five oils by pioneering expressionist Maggie Laubser from the collection of a Johannesburg gentleman. The impeccable consignment includes Laubser’s study of labour, Harvesters in Wheatfield (estimate R2 – 3 million), and exquisite portrait Leentjie (estimate (R1 – 2 million), which portrays a young female worker from the Laubser farm. The Johannesburg sale has a total of nine Laubser lots.

The sale of these outstanding works is preceded by a session dedicated to under-recognised historical artists. The “Unsung History” session offers collectors an expansive view of South African art history at a time of growing international interest in South African art.

Two outstanding works by Erik Laubscher are also among the highlights of the sale. Still Life with Papaya, recto; Still Life with Lemons, verso (estimate R2 000 000 – 3 000 000 and Overberg (estimate R1 000 000 – 1 300 000).

The sale also includes a rich offering of works by contemporary artists including William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Diane Victor , Deborah Bell and Karel Nel.

All the lots will be available for viewing at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg from Friday 9 November until shortly before the premier evening sale commences at 8pm on Monday 12 November. Strauss & Co is
the global leader for South African art. It holds five live sales annually, including one solely devoted to contemporary art. Strauss & Co has sold nine of the ten most expensive paintings ever auctioned in South Africa.

Press enquiries: Bina Genovese,

Important South African and International Art
Monday 12 November 2018

2 pm Session One
6 pm Session Two
8 pm Session Three

The Wanderers Club, Ballroom, 21 North Street, Illovo, Johannesburg
GPS Co-ordinates: Latitude: S26 08.123 – Longitude: E28 03.454

Friday 9 November to Sunday 11 November from 10 am to 5 pm

Saturday 10 November at 11 am and Sunday 11 November at 11 am

Enquiries and catalogues
Office: +27 (0) 11 728 8246 Fax: +27 (0) 11 728 8247

Contact numbers during viewing and auction:
Mobile +27 (0) 79 407 5140 and +27 (0) 79 367 0637 Fax: +27 (0) 11 728 8247

Absentee and telephone bids:
Tel +27 (0) 11 728 8246 +27 (0) 82 336 8761 Fax 086 565 9324

Tel +27 (0) 11 728 8246 Debbie Watson

Condition reports

About Strauss & Co:
Strauss & Co is South Africa’s leading auction house and the global leader for South African art. It was founded in 2009 by a consortium of business leaders and industry experts, including the late auctioneer Stephan Welz, Elisabeth Bradley, Dr Conrad Strauss, Vanessa Phillips, Ann Palmer and Bina Genovese. Frank Kilbourn, a respected entrepreneur, philanthropist and art collector, was appointed Executive Chairperson in 2016. Strauss & Co has the highest market share amongst the four leading auction houses specialising in South African art globally. In 2017 the company’s turnover totalled R329 million – a sum unrivalled by any auction house dealing in South African art in a single year. Strauss & Co annually holds five live auctions, three in Cape Town and two in Johannesburg, and up to eight online-only auctions. Strauss & Co was awarded the prestigious Chairman’s Premier Award at the 2018 annual BASA Awards for its sustained and extraordinary commitment to the arts in South Africa.

Strauss & Co Board of Directors: Frank Kilbourn (Executive Chairperson), Vanessa Phillips and Bina Genovese (Joint MDs), Elisabeth Bradley, Dr Conrad Strauss, Caro Wiese, Carmen Welz, Susie Goodman