Sun, 3rd Mar 2019 12:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

  Lot 43
Lot 43 - Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef (South Africa 1886-1957)


Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef (South Africa 1886-1957)
Sunlit mountains, Clarens

oil on canvas

Artwork date: 1918
Signature details: signed and dated; signed on the reverse

Sold for R1,138,000
Estimated at R1,000,000 - R2,000,000

Condition Report

Paint losses in areas, minor surface dirt and cracking, minor stretcher marks, on the original stretcher, some keys replaced. To be restored.

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: 1918
Signature details: signed and dated; signed on the reverse


51 x 66.5 cm


Towards the end of 1917, at the age of thirty two, J.H. Pierneef had resigned from his position as a clerk at the State Library in Pretoria. As this institution remained open until 9pm in the evenings, the artist preferred to work there after office hours in order to spend as much as possible of his daylight hours either painting in the veld, researching or associating with like-minded artists in town. Pierneef’s appointment as art lecturer at the Heidelberg Teachers’ Training College in early 1918 afforded him far more flexibility to devote time to his own art as he was only expected to teach eight hours per week. By then, and through the encouragement of a growing circle of friends and supporters, the artist had already presented two successful solo exhibitions in Pretoria.Pierneef was extremely interested in the world around him; he presented lectures on art and culture to select groups in an effort to encourage social and scientific interaction among the educated community of Pretoria and further afield. On one such lecturing excursion to Bloemfontein, his close friend J. F. W. Grosskopf introduced Pierneef to Reenen J. van Reenen, an acknowledged authority on rock art in the Free State. This field of research became one of the artist’s enduring interests during his lifetime. It is known that Van Reenen and Pierneef spent time at the now well-known Schaaplaats Farm rock art site in the Clarens district.The artist was by that time also well acquainted with the work of the French Impressionists and their focus on and depiction of light with its wide-ranging qualities on selected landscape features. In all probability this early painting with its sparkling orange hues and deep blue-grey anticlinal crags and crests, set within a sumptuous sunlit landscape, was completed after one of the expeditions to a secluded rock art site in that mountainous area.

Eunice Basson

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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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