Auction in London on 26 June

Sotheby’s, the global leaders in African art and artists, is delighted to present three artworks by Irma Stern as a highlight of their Summer Season in London, alongside some of the most famous names in Modern Art including Picasso, Renoir, Degas, and Rodin.

Recognised as one of South Africa’s most important artists, Irma Stern remains at the epicentre of modern South African art history. As demand increases for 20th century women artists in the international market, Stern is also enjoying increasing global recognition for the resounding effect that her life and art had both in South Africa and abroad.


Still Life with Watermelons, 1944
Estimate: £140,000 – 180,000 GBP (ZAR 3.3 – 4.3 Million)

Irma Stern’s visual fascination with the natural world is clearly demonstrated in her still-lifes, set up in her studio at her home in Cape Town, The Firs (now the Irma Stern Museum), which span her full career from the 1920s to the 1960s. These depictions of flower arrangements provided the artist with an opportunity for formal experimentation. In Still Life with Watermelons, Stern’s energetic and expressive paint application combines with the lush colours to create a uniquely colourful and vital interpretation of the traditional still life

Seated Figures, Madeira, 1963
Estimate: £4,000 – 6,000 GBP (ZAR 96,000 – 144,000)

Stern first visited Madeira in 1931, seeking an escape from her troubled marriage as well as inspiration and new subject matter. Stern was incredibly prolific during her time on the island, and it was here that she really mastered her use of light and colour. Stern returned to Madeira twice more later in her career, and exhibited many of these works in her solo exhibition, ‘My Three Madeiras’ at the South African Association of the Arts, Cape Town, in 1964.

Nude, 1953
Estimate: £1,500 – 2,000 GBP (ZAR 36,000 – 48,000)

Irma Stern’s nudes were the subject of an in-depth exhibition at Sanlam Art Gallery, Cape Town, in 2022, curated by Michael Godby, who writes in the catalogue “her monotypes of 1953/4 represent her most intense and significant exploration of the medium – and one of her most powerful treatments of the nude”.

Sale details:
Modern Day Auction
26 June 2024 at 11:00 BST (12 noon SAST)

Sotheby’s is now accepting consignments for future auctions, including Modern & Contemporary African Art on 27 September 2024.

Hannah O’Leary, Senior Director
+44 (0)207 293 5696

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