Mon, 27th Mar 2017 15:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 140
Lot 140 - Maurice van Essche (South Africa 1906-1977)


Maurice van Essche (South Africa 1906-1977)
The day's catch

oil on canvas

Signature details: signed

Sold for R511,560
Estimated at R500,000 - R800,000

Condition Report

Cleaned and revarnished, minor craquelure in areas, good.

Please note, we are not qualified conservators and these reports give our opinion as to the general condition of the works. We advise that bidders view the lots in person to satisfy themselves with the condition of prospective purchases.


oil on canvas

Signature details: signed


64 x 90 cm


Maurice van Essche’s painting The day’s catch is an attractive, detailed example from his oeuvre of paintings depicting communities who depend on the ocean for survival.During the 1930s, Van Essche shared the company of renowned fellow artists Paul Delvaux, James Ensor and Constant Permeke in the rich cultural atmosphere which prevailed in Brussels. This environment contributed towards shaping Van Essche’s artistic talent.A visual encounter with Henri Rousseau’s paintings in Paris, triggered an interest in the unknown and a desire to enter the world of the exotic. Such an opportunity arrived in 1939, when Van Essche embarked on a study trip to the Congo. This Congo experience remained with him, influencing the development of his painting style and his choice to portray indigenous people linked to the African continent.The advent of WW II prevented Van Essche’s return to Europe and in 1940 he travelled from the Congo to Cape Town. The support which Van Essche received from local artists, in particular from Gregoire Boonzaier, was a turning point in his life and he decided to make South Africa his home.Van Essche believed that art should be expressed as something genuine, compelling and personal:“To paint the artist must seek an intimate conversation with life. When I paint, all intellectual perceptions or preconceived ideas disappear. I feel guided by deeper forces while I give expression to myself” (Demedts et al, 1968:46).The present painting is true to Van Essche’s philosophies and provides a striking example of his passion for painting people in land- and seascapes. It uniquely subtle feeling arises from the central lighter colour palette, compared other paintings of fishermen, where he painted the landscapes in bold colours of red, brown, pink and ochre. The softer landscape is further emphasised by the bold colours of the boat’s hull and the fisherfolk’s clothes, which effectively contrast with the muted beach colours. The figures are placed in a well-balanced composition, surrounded by the boat, nets and the generous catch of the day on the sand, as well as those being rinsed in a container. From the left, clients are emerging to assess the merchandise. Their upright posture suggests a nobility which is conveyed on the fishermen’s trade.

Fred Scott


Demedts, A., Hanoulle, J., Notebaert, M. & Van der Plaetse, A. (1968) Vlaanderen, Jaargang 17, Roeselare: Christelijk Vlaams Kunstenaarsverbon

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Mon, 27th Mar 2017

The Inaugural Cape Auction offed a diverse range of top-quality historic, modern and contemporary works. With a focus on critically engaged art and a curated approach, seasoned and new collectors competed to acquire significant works.

Aspire’s commitment to the growth of the art market saw international records broken in recognition of exiled South African artists. Louis Maqhubela’s Exiled King, a definitive, politically motivated work, sold for R341,040 - three times his previous record, and Albert Adams’ Untitled (Four Figures with Pitchforks), his first appearance at auction, sold for R136,416. Top prices were also achieved for established artists including J.H Pierneef, William Kentridge, and Edoardo Villa, and contemporary artwork fared exceptionally with record prices for David Brown, Steven Cohen, Mohau Modisakeng, Moshekwa Langa, and Mikhael Subotzky.


Friday 24 March 2017 | 10 am – 7 pm
Saturday 25 March 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 26 March 2017 | 10 am – 4 pm

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