Strauss & Co is delighted to announce the start of its 2022 sales programme with a multi-part series of online-only sales featuring superb consignments from its decorative arts, wine and fine art departments.

Highlights include the curated contemporary art session, historical silverware, a Rhône-themed wine offering, excellent historical paintings by Eleanor Esmonde-White, Ephraim Ngatane and Fred Page A separate auction of work by the 16 finalists in the third edition of the Emerging Painting Invitational Prize will run concurrently, with paintings by artists from countries across the continent of Africa.

Bidding for the lots in the timed-online sales opens on Valentine’s Day (Monday, 14 February) and coincides with the opening of Strauss & Co’s non-selling exhibition, Giving Direction: Figuration, Past and Present. The exhibition will be on view at the historical Cape Town homestead of Welgemeend (14-20 February 2022) and overlaps with the vibrant programming of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair.

The decorative arts department begins its 2022 campaign with a focus on jewellery and collectable silver. South Africa’s love affair with English silver is longstanding. Notable historical pieces include a George III hot water pot by Charles Wright from 1772 (estimate R20 000 – 25 000), George V four-piece tea service by Mappin & Webb from 1914-15 (estimate R11 500 – 12 000) and George V presentation tray by Walker & Hall from 1931 (estimate R16 000 – 17 000).

The wine department has achieved great success with its themed wine sales exploring the links between South African and French winemaking, notably Bordeaux blends. The forthcoming sale will profile the Rhône wine region in southern France, and its influence of Mediterranean varieties such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre on South African wines.

Strauss & Co’s head curator Wilhelm van Rensburg has singled out two outstanding collaborative works in the large contemporary art consignment included in the February online sales. Wayne Barker’s audacious two-metre facial portrait Church Lady in Blue (estimate R200 000 – 300 000) forms part of an ongoing series and was created in collaboration with beaders Qubeka, Mandiswa Masina, Neuswa Skiti, Nolubabalo Kpweu, Vumke Skiet and Rikewe Mzu.

Wayne Barke | Church Lady in Blue | beads and glue on wood panel, 200 by 200 by 3,5cm, R 200 000 – 300 000

In 2018, painter Marlene Steyn collaborated with artist Gabrielle Kruger, a friend who shares a neighbouring studio, on The We in Weedlings (estimate R20 000 – 30 000). It was first shown in their joint exhibition Garden Smoothie in Stellenbosch “The work is phenomenal, particularly the manipulation of paint, the textural nature of it, and the crossover between art and craft,” says Van Rensburg. Steyn has charmed collectors and trounced pre-sale estimates at her 2021 auction debut in Strauss & Co’s October live sale in Cape Town.

Marlene Steyn | The We in Weedlings | oil and linoleum on canvas laid down on wood panel, 86 by 30,5cm, R 20 000 – 30 000

The dedicated contemporary art session, which has been overseen by Strauss and Co senior art specialist Matthew Partridge, also features a work that speaks to the theme of collaboration. William Kentridge’s 2009 etching Deconstructed Horse, Handspring Series (estimate R50 000 – 70 000) is one of a pair of works made by Kentridge to mark the publication of a comprehensive book about the Handspring Puppet Company, regular collaborators with the artist since the 1990s.

William Kentridge | Deconstructed Horse, Handspring Series, dry-point and sugarlift etching on paper, image size: 24,5 by 19,5cm, R 50 000 – 70 000

The online catalogue shows a strong focus on printmaking, with lots by key exponents of the medium such as Conrad Botes, Norman Catherine, Robert Hodgins, Anton Kannemeyer and Paul Stopforth, as well as print editions originally published by the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and online magazine The catalogue includes a rare first edition of British artist Banksy’s first-ever publication from 2001.

Robert Hodgins | Looking for Me, Babe, Looking for Me? | screenprint on paper, image size: 47 by 63,5cm, R 10 000 – 15 000

“I think the contemporary session gives collectors an opportunity to start collecting important artists at an achievable price point,” says Matthew Partridge. “It features definitive works in each of the artists’ styles, which they developed in their more expansive works.”

Other notable works on paper underlined by Wilhelm van Rensburg include four related pieces by Minnette Vári, Sentinel I-IV from 2002 (estimate R30 000 – 50 000 each), which featured on her mid-career survey exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery in 2016. Van Rensburg also points to works on paper by Serge Alain Nitegeka (Manoeuver: Studio Study I, estimate R6 000 – 9 000) and Richard Penn (Field of View, estimate R4 000 – 5 000).

Serge Alain Nitegeka | Manoeuver: Studio Study I | colour screenprint on paper, sheet size: 42 by 58,5cm, R 6 000 – 9 000

The online catalogue includes a number of stalwart twentieth-century painters, notably Gregoire Boonzaier, Adriaan Boshoff, WH Coetzer and Judith Mason. Important historical painting lots include Eleanor Esmonde-White’s 1953 composition Harvesting Bananas (estimate R100 000 – 150 000) and Ephraim Ngatane’s The Penny Whistlers (estimate R250 000 – 350 000), which featured in his survey exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery in 2010.

Eleanor Esmonde-White | Harvesting Bananas | oil on canvas, 40 by 50cm, R 100 000 – 150 000

“Rina Stutzer, partner of sculptor Angus Taylor, is carrying the torch for good, solid contemporary painting, albeit with a twist in her 2007 oil depicting a very surreal and tactile close-up of a dog’s eye,” says Wilhelm van Rensburg (Eye of a Dog, estimate R30 000 – 50 000). He also draws attention to two recent abstract paintings by Olaf Bisschoff, The Last Day of Pompeii and The Virgin and Child with St Anne (estimate R25 000 – 35 000 each).

Strauss & Co is delighted to once again partner with the African Art Galleries Association to host and co-sponsor the ​Emerging Painting Invitational Prize (EPI). This international painting award was developed to support and recognise promising African talent under 30. The 16 finalists in this year’s edition hail from Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan and Tunisia.

The three cash prize winners will be announced at Strauss & Co’s VIP evening at Welgemeend, Cape Town, on Wednesday 16 February 2022.

Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Silver and Jewellery | Opens 8:00 am Monday, 14 Feb 2022

Cyrus Kabiru | Macho Mne: Nzuri Fufu | semi-matte photo type paper with pigment ink, gloss diasec, 75 by 60 by 2,5cm, R 20 000 – 30 000

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