'The Night Watch!' by Yiull Damaso on display at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg in 2010. This painting recently sold for R450,000.

Although former president Jacob Zuma might come to mind when controversial artworks of South African leaders are mentioned, late statesman Nelson Mandela has also seen his fair share of provocative depictions.

Here are three artists who have caused a public outcry with their Madiba works:


This Joburg-based artist made headlines earlier this week when his 2010 Mandela painting, The Night Watch!, sold for R450,000. Business Insider reported this is almost double the highest price his work has ever achieved. The buyer has chosen to stay anonymous.

The Night Watch!, based on the Dutch artist Rembrandt’s 1642 painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, depicts Mandela’s corpse being autopsied by the late child Aids activist Nkosi Johnson. Among those in the background are prominent South Africans Desmond Tutu, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, FW de Klerk and Helen Zille.

At the time the painting was created Mandela’s health was failing making a depiction of him being dissected a sensitive matter.  Read more