Sun, 3rd Mar 2019 12:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

  Lot 15
Lot 15 - Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef (South Africa 1886-1957)


Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef (South Africa 1886-1957)
Acacia trees

casein on paper laid down on card

Signature details: signed

Sold for R739,700
Estimated at R600,000 - R900,000

Condition Report

Minor cracking to right hand side, otherwise 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.


casein on paper laid down on card

Signature details: signed


26 x 34 cm


During the early 1920s, as Pierneef became more settled in his initial career as an art lecturer at the Pretoria and Heidelberg Colleges of Education, a steadily growing interest in his work resulted in exhibitions in Pretoria and the Cape Province. These early successes led to Pierneef’s decision in 1923, at the age of 37, to become a fulltime artist, a decision which was encouraged by his godfather Anton van Wouw (1862-1945). As Pierneef gained more confidence in his stylistic development, Frans Oerder (1867-1944), amongst others, instructed him in various painterly techniques and mediums such as casein whilst an early friendship with George Smithard (1873-1919) introduced the artist to the finer skills of etching and linocut.

Pierneef was known to pack his easel and art materials and to travel and roam along the gravel roads on the outskirts of the capital city and further afield towards the bushveld to the north of Pretoria into what is known today as the Limpopo Province. It was during these journeys, whilst grappling with the blanching effects of the sweltering sun on the African landscape, that the artist explored certain stylistic techniques and painterly mediums such as casein with its subtle qualities. Casein is derived from milk casein, a milk protein. It is a fast-drying, water-soluble medium and can be used for underpainting and generally dries to a velvety matte finish.

This exquisite casein painting depicts the Springbok Flats or plains of the Limpopo Province. By placing the umbrella thorn trees in the immediate foreground of the composition, underpinned by the low blue horizon line in the distance, the artist emphasizes the immensity of these vast plains. The infinite expanse above the landscape is skillfully layered with accumulating cloud formations, accentuating the dramatic division between veld and sky. An almost identical thorn tree is depicted in a linocut entitled Doringboom in landskap/Thorn tree in landscape (No 89) in the book on Pierneef by Nilant (1974: 124), which confirms the location in this painting as the Springbok Flats of Limpopo.

Eunice Basson


Nilant, F.E.G. (1974).Die Hout- en Linosneë van J.H. Pierneef. Kaapstad: AA Balkema.

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 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.  

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