3rd Mar, 2019 12:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 59
Lot 59 - Irma Stern (South Africa 1894-1966)


Irma Stern (South Africa 1894-1966)
Still life with roses

oil on canvas

Artwork date: 1948
Signature details: signed and dated

Sold for R2,276,000
Estimated at R2,000,000 - R4,000,000


oil on canvas

Artwork date: 1948
Signature details: signed and dated


51 x 38 cm


The luscious blooms in this painting may have been a gift to Irma Stern, or could possibly have come from the old rose bed below her Rondebosch studio, which is no longer standing.In her lifetime, Stern’s famous garden at her house The Firs (now the Irma Stern Museum) was not nearly as shaded as it is today. The giant magnolia and oak trees have soared ever higher in the intervening decades, rendering the garden problematic for growing roses.Stern’s elegant composition seems to be dictated by the vertical tower of blooms held aloft by a black Chinese martaban, a severe and effective contrast to the roses’ lush, organic glory. The planes of the angular composition are balanced by the choice of the madonna blue on the left, the dense cream of the background, and the foaming blue white of the foreground. This was Stern in a gentle, reflective state of mind.We recall once again the words of American-British sculptor Jacob Epstein, quoted in Neville Dubow’s book on Stern. Epstein, upon seeing Stern’s rose paintings in London remarked: “At last a painter who can paint”.[i] As Dubow also points out, Stern was later to claim that Epstein added, “You and I understand one another. Renoir’s roses look like paper next to yours”.Stern’s roses in this work could even be compared favourably to the very great flower painter of the 19th century, French artist Henri Fantin Latour, and also that of her closer contemporary, the English artist Matthew Smith.Perhaps the inspiration for this particular rendition comes from the possibility that they were a bunch of birthday roses – they look like first flush October roses and Stern’s birthday was on the 2nd October.

Christopher Peter


[i] Dubow, N. 1987. Irma Stern. Pretoria: Struik, p.18.

[ii] Ibid.

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: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, 3rd Mar, 2019

Aspire Art Auctions set a new bar for the market in its Autumn 19 Auction in Cape Town, with a South African auction record for its cover lot.

An early work, by international star Marlene Dumas, Love Lost (1973/4) achieved R7 283 200, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of R3 000 000. Further successful sales included a range of paintings by Alexis Preller from across his career, and new world records for work by Jane Alexander, Simphiwe Ndzube, and Moshekwa Langa. These results further establish Aspire’s growing reputation as the discerning auction house for handling contemporary South African art.  

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.