Sun, 17th Jun 2018 18:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 9
Lot 9 - Maud Sumner (South Africa 1902-1985)


Maud Sumner (South Africa 1902-1985)
Self portrait

oil on board

Signature details: signed with the artist's initials

Sold for R204,840
Estimated at R180,000 - R240,000

Condition Report

Recently retouched. 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 board

Signature details: signed with the artist's initials


48 x 38 cm


This finely honed undated self-portrait illustrates a keen sense of identity and self-confidence, together with an engaging gazethat holds the viewer’s attention. Maud Sumner reveals herself here as a newly settled art debutante, conceivably in Paris, probably in the late 1920s. Could this interior have been her first modest lodgings in which she saw herself as an independent young woman in pursuit of a career within the art world? Although Sumner was born in Johannesburg and schooled at Roedean where she was encouraged by the well-known art teacher AE Gyngell (1866–1949) to follow a career in art, her father was far more in favour of solid academic training. With relatives in Warwickshire where she was to spend happy and fruitful holidays with her grandmother and aunts, it was decided that she would study at Oxford. Sumner commenced her studies in 1922 reading English and French language and literature and for some time became fully engaged in the academic life at Oxford University.However, with her enduring interest in art and the compulsion to draw and paint, she soon investigated other creative options and in 1925 registered for an art course at the Westminster School of Art in London. Nonetheless, the English Art School tradition proved not to agree with her imaginative nature and she took the bold decision to travel to Paris. There the art galleries, art schools and a sense of creative experimentation, confirmed Sumner’s realisation that she had found her artistic roots and spiritual home. The small, evocative painting in the background of this rather minimalist interior might shed light on the way in which this early self-portrait evokes Sumner’s initial introduction to French painting. The architectural structure portrayed here reminds the viewer of an aqueduct, a favourite subject matter of various French artists such as Cézanne (1839–1906), Gericault (1791– 1824) and Vuillard (1868–1940) amongst others that she might have encountered on her visits to the city’s various art museums. Moreover, the young Sumner portrayed herself here rather provocatively by shedding her green stole, perhaps suggesting a mood of newly found personal freedom in the ‘City of Light’.

Eunice Basson

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 17th Jun 2018

In a slow and unresponsive market, amid tight economic conditions generally in South Africa, Aspire Art Auctions made impressive statements and set several world records.

Two rare works by Irma Stern achieved sparkling results. The top lot by value: Still life with magnolias, apples and bowl (1949), fetched R6 828 000, the highest price achieved for a work by Stern for over a year. Another significant still life, Still life with chrysanthemums in the artist’s handmade ceramic jug, from 1950, sold for R3 414 000.

A significant, world record was achieved for Peter Clarke – R1 479 400 for Lazy Day, an acrylic and gouache on paper from 1975, and records were also set for contemporary artists, Zander Blom and Paul Stopforth.


Thursday 14 June 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Friday 15 June 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 16 June 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 17 June 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm

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