Sun, 3rd Mar 2019 12:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

  Lot 32
Lot 32 - Alexis Preller (South Africa 1911-1975)


Alexis Preller (South Africa 1911-1975)
The Blue Plate

oil on canvas

Artwork date: 1956
Signature details: signed and dated
Exhibited: Lidchi Gallery, Johannesburg, Alexis Preller, 13 to 24 March 1956.

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

Condition Report

Exhibited: Lidchi Gallery, Johannesburg, Alexis Preller, 13 to 24 March 1956. Condition: Four areas of applied adhesive/beeswax on the reverse, revarnished, minor stretcher marks, very minor cracking in areas, 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.


oil on canvas

Artwork date: 1956
Signature details: signed and dated
Exhibited: Lidchi Gallery, Johannesburg, Alexis Preller, 13 to 24 March 1956.


51 x 61.5 cm


Alexis Preller was in many ways an artist torn between two impulses: in one thread his work is cosmic, fantastical, visionary; in another observational, familiar, acute. What often tied the threads together was his ubiquitous ‘household gods’ concept. These talismanic domestic objects were various, brought together from his travels, as gifts from friends and family, or taken from his garden and immediate surrounds.The ways in which these objects weave through his artistic output are very interesting. Often they appear in a painting to tie a grand theme or subject to a more prosaic and familiar grounding. At other times they provide a sacramental character to scenes depicted in his paintings, providing the markers of a visionary space. This reorientation of the meanings inherent in everyday objects, a recasting of the relationships between objects and their significance, became one of the hallmarks of Preller’s work. Even the standard subjects of still life painting generally, such as fruit, took on an overdetermined symbolic nature in his work. Good examples of this are the intaglio apples of his later career.

In this work, a decidedly domestic still life tableau is given a typically Prelleresque signature by the addition of symbolically charged items from the artist’s studio. The blue plate in the mid-foreground contains pieces of fruit in a concession to standard still life convention. In the bottom right of the frame an impossibly blue aubergine echoes the blue of the plate, reminding us of the artist’s mastery of and innovation with colour. The range of other domestic objects, including the bottles dominating the left mid-ground of the frame, and the pile of books whose identity is carefully elided, beautifully establish the context of the work as an accomplished still life. But other elements make it a Preller still life. The stylised screens in the background, and particularly the sketched profile figure in the midground, are quintessential touches by the artist. The audacious inclusion of one of his own works in this painting makes it unusual – the profile figure would reappear many times over the years, and featured in a very similar composition to the one rendered here as a still life object, in the two paintings entitled The Young King, a year later than this exquisite work.

James Sey

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 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, 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.  

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): R400

Medium (≤90x120x15 cm): R800

Large (≤120x150x20 cm): R1,200

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.