30th Nov, 2021 18:00

Modern & Contemporary Art | Johannesburg

Lot 53
Lot 53 - Vladimir  Tretchikoff (South Africa 1913-2006)


Vladimir Tretchikoff (South Africa 1913-2006)
Race horses

oil on canvas

Signature details: signed bottom left

Sold for R455,200
Estimated at R400,000 - R600,000


oil on canvas

Signature details: signed bottom left


85.5 x 90.5 cm; framed size: 110 x 132 x 4 cm


Private collection, Johannesburg.

Acquired from the artist and thence by descent.


The horse as subject and the tradition of equestrian portraits has deep roots in Western European art. No wonder the ‘people’s painter’ Tretchikoff included in his myriad popular themes equine imagery, depicting horses gloriously – like the Romantic painters – as wild, free and mystical creatures, as seen in his painting Phantom Horse or as athletic partners in various equestrian performance sports events like Grand National/Over the Jumps.

Much of Tretchikoff’s equine subjects are devoted to racehorses. He started painting horse races in the late 1960s and continued with the theme during the 1970s while attending many of the events at the Kenilworth Racecourse in Cape Town. He favoured this genre as it allowed him to continue and further explore his ‘action studies’ – attempting to capture motion by showing several phases of movement in the same painting. The Race, an impressive large-scale mural commissioned for the Heerengracht Hotel in Cape Town at the time, is an example of the artist’s most accomplished and well-known equestrian works.

The present lot recalls the French Impressionist Edgar Degas’ painting At the Races (1885) and showcases Tretchikoff’s artistic strength while working in a more conventional manner to capture motion in a single ‘shot’. The painting depicts two race horses fully geared, numbered and saddled-up with their jockeys, calmy walking in daylight along the track. It is an impressive, courtly portrait, recording a fleeting moment right before or after a race. The focus is on the graciousness and nobility of the two horses and their movements, muscular details and physical strength are clearly and beautifully rendered.

Never before seen, this painting not only exemplifies Tretchikoff’s unique ‘super-realist’ painting style but also stands as the artist’s humble homage to the companionship and sportsmanship of a remarkable animal.

Marelize van Zyl

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art | Johannesburg, 30th Nov, 2021


A focused collection of top historical, modern and contemporary artworks, this boutique-style sale presents impressive examples of South Africa’s best-known artists at auction. Included is a wonderful oil on canvas still-life by Irma Stern painted in 1936, an exquisite equestrian painting by Tretchikoff, 4 early watercolours by George Pemba, a monumental Villa from 1976 and 6 superb lots by William Kentridge. Also on offer are impressive contemporary works by Kate Gottgens, Phillemon Hlungwani, Wim Botha and Banele Khoza, amongst others.


Viewing will be open from Wednesday 24 to Tuesday 30 November from 9 am to 5 pm.

Address: 32 Bolton Road, Parkwood, Johannesburg, 2193

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