30th Nov, 2021 18:00

Modern & Contemporary Art | Johannesburg

Lot 59
Lot 59 - George Pemba (South Africa 1912-2001)


George Pemba (South Africa 1912-2001)
Xhosa women

watercolour and pastel on paper

Artwork date: 1947
Signature details: signed and dated bottom left

Sold for R96,730
Estimated at R60,000 - R80,000


watercolour and pastel on paper

Artwork date: 1947
Signature details: signed and dated bottom left


26 x 35 cm; size framed: 46 x 55 x 2 cm


Private collection, Cape Town.


George Pemba is celebrated today as the foremost black portrait painter who defied Western sensationalism in convincingly depicting local and indigenous people with grace, compassion and nobility. In 1944, Pemba secured a grant from the then Bantu Welfare Trust and embarked on a grand tour across South Africa. He was interested to see how different people in South Africa lived and wanted to “capture the soul of the South African peoples in their natural surroundings”. He recalls in the diary of his journey: “This loan was intended to enable me to see the beautiful plains and mountains of my own land, as I felt I could no longer tolerate being shut up in an office. I longed to see the Zulus, from whence the Xhosas originated, and the Basutos, the original people….I belong to the Ngquosini tribe, the river people, who fled Moshoeshoe, and joined the Xhosas many years ago”[1].

Presented here is a collection of watercolours, created between 1944 and 1947, during Pemba’s sojourn and shortly thereafter. These exquisitely rare works indicate his remarkable skill in working with watercolour to capture with truth and care the various details - like beadwork, headdresses and facial features, in portraying the unique and individual character of his subjects.

Marelize van Zyl

[1] Huddleston, S. (1996). Against All Odds. Jeppestown: Jonathon Ball Publishers. p.40.

You can place an absentee bid through our website - please sign in to your account on our website to proceed.

In the My Account tab you can also enter telephone bids, or email bids@aspireart.net to log telephone/absentee bids.

Join us on the day of the auction to follow and bid in real-time.

The auction will be live-streamed with an audio-visual feed.

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

View all lots in this sale

Images *

Drag and drop .jpg images here to upload, or click here to select images.





While we endeavour to assist our Clients as much as possible, we require artwork(s) to be delivered and/or collected from our premises by the Client. In instances where a Client is unable to deliver or collect artwork(s), Aspire staff is available to assist in this process by outsourcing the services to one of our preferred Service Providers. The cost for this will be for the Client’s account, with an additional Handling Fee of 15% charged on top of the Service Provider’s invoice.

Aspire Art provides inter-company transfer services for its Clients between Johannesburg and Cape Town branches. These are based on the size of the artwork(s), and charged as follows:

Small (≤60x90x10 cm): R480

Medium (≤90x120x15 cm): R960

Large (≤120x150x20 cm): R1,440

Over-size: Special quote


Should artwork(s) be collected or delivered to/from Clients by Aspire Art directly, the following charges will apply:

Collection/delivery ≤20km: R400

Collection/delivery 20km>R800≤50km

Collection/delivery >50km: Special quote



A flat fee of R100 will be added to the invoice for packaging of unframed works on paper.


International Collectors Shipping Package

For collectors based outside South Africa who purchase regularly from Aspire Art’s auctions in South Africa, it does not make sense to ship artworks individually or per auction and pay shipping every time you buy another work. Consequently, we have developed a special collectors’ shipping package to assist in reducing shipping costs and the constant demands of logistics arrangements.

For buyers from outside South Africa, we will keep the artworks you have purchased in storage during the year and then ship all the works you have acquired during the year together, so the shipping costs are reduced. At the end of the annual period, we will source various quotes to get you the best price, and ship all your artworks to your desired address at once.

Aspire Art will arrange suitable storage during, and cost-effective shipping at the end, of the annual period.



Collections are by appointment, with 24-hours’ notice

Clients are requested to contact the relevant office and inform Aspire Art of which artwork(s) they would like to collect, and allow a 24-hour window for Aspire Art’s logistics department to retrieve the artwork(s) and prepare them for collection.


Handling Fee

Aspire Art charges a 15% Handling Fee on all Logistics, Framing, Restoration and Conservation arranged by Aspire.