31st Oct, 2021 11:00

Art, Life and Love: The Collection of Nwabisa Xayiya (Live Auction)

  Lot 27
Lot 27 - Alexis Preller (South Africa 1911-1975)


Alexis Preller (South Africa 1911-1975)
The Yellow Head

oil on canvas

Artwork date: 1945
Signature details: signed and dated bottom right
Literature: Berman, E. & Nel, K. (2009). Alexis Preller: Africa, the Sun and Shadows. Johannesburg: Shelf Publishing, illustrated in colour on p.87.

Sold for R978,680
Estimated at R300,000 - R500,000


oil on canvas

Artwork date: 1945
Signature details: signed and dated bottom right
Literature: Berman, E. & Nel, K. (2009). Alexis Preller: Africa, the Sun and Shadows. Johannesburg: Shelf Publishing, illustrated in colour on p.87.


48 x 38 cm; framed size: 73.5 x 64 x 7 cm


Private collection, Johannesburg.


With a South African government grant to ex-servicemen, Preller was able to invest in land on which to construct his new home and studio in an area of Pretoria known as Brummeria. Long fascinated by myths and legends, he named it Ygdrasil, the Tree of Life in Norse mythology, its branches reaching up to unite the known world with the heavens above while its roots stretch down into the nether world.

Finally he could look back from his own piece of paradise and feel less scarred by his cruel experience of World War II, translating memories into more meditative form. This appealingly portrait of a child with large dark almond eyes set in a sweet, sensitive face provides a compelling image of youth. The flower, possibly a guara lindheimeri or ‘butterfly bush’ – popularly planted in Africa, but not indigenous – lends an exotic appeal.

This unique work is inspired by the artist’s unique imaginative world of personal symbols and his rich experience of world cultures. Consciously paying homage to French artists like Paul Gauguin, Preller creates his own experimental style and visionary subjects that conjure an ideal world of love and beauty

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Auction: Art, Life and Love: The Collection of Nwabisa Xayiya (Live Auction), 31st Oct, 2021

This October, 2021, we are honoured to present Art, Life and Love:  The Collection of Nwabisa Xayiya, a single owner auction showcasing the cultivated taste and style of Nwabisa Xayiya.

The auction offers examples by great modernists as well as exciting contemporary pieces. Notable is a selection of work by George Pemba. There is also a set of impressive urban scenes and portraits by Gerard Sekoto, a rarely seen Alexis Preller, a glorious Robert Hodgins, and varied examples of Dumile Feni’s work. Within the contemporary offering, there are outstanding works by Blessing Ngobeni, Sam Nhlengethwa, William Kentridge, Teresa Firmino, Athi-Patra Ruga, Kudzanai Chiurai, Nelson Makamo, Owusu-Ankomah and Nicholas Hlobo.


Lots will be on view at the Xayiya residence: 63 4th Street, Houghton, Johannesburg
Saturday 23 October to Saturday 30 October from 10 am to 6 pm

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