Gold Miner Shines in Bronze at Strauss Auction

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A rare bronze sculpture of a miner by Anton van Wouw sold for a record R4.8-million at Strauss and Co’s auction that was held in Johannesburg, Gauteng on Monday, November 9 2015. A striking number of the top lots at the auction house’s evening session achieved record prices, including important works by Anton van Wouw, and other artists' Alexis Preller and Cecily Sash

After much pre-sale interest in two Italian castings of works by Anton van Wouw, "Miner with Hand Drill" more than doubled its previous record of R2 005 200 set by Strauss & Co in 2013, rising sharply beyond its top estimate of R3 million to a new world record of R4.8 million. A second van Wouw artwork, "The Dagga Smoker", quickly reached its upper estimate of R400 000, escalating to R795 000. It’s particularly interesting provenance captured the imaginations of bidders: it was donated by the artist to the Dutch Relief Fund during the Second World War. 

The cover lot, "The Creation of Adam I", set a record price for Alexis Preller at over R8.5-million. The second of the Prellers, "Apollo Kouros II", which is famous for having appeared on the cover of the artist’s major retrospective in 1972, sold quickly at R5.4 million.

Target Composition 1, a powerful work by Cecily Sash, a founder member of the Amadlozi Group, set the room buzzing with seven phone bidders joining the competitive bidding. This new record for the artist at over R510 000, five times the presale estimate, doubled the previous record for a work by Sash set by Strauss and Co in 2012.

Pierneef proved popular with nine paintings achieving strong results. Among the top ten lots, British landscape painter Ivon Hitchens’ "Landscape with a caravan and apple trees" drew local and international bidders, achieving R1.25 million, and Irma Stern’s empathetic portrait of a Malay woman, "Meinkie", R3.18 million.

The sale totalled R52 240 094 and achieved a sold rate of over 80% by value and lot combined.

A spokesman for the company commented after the sale, “Once again, the fiercely competitive bidding from a packed saleroom and busy telephone bank, indicates the strength of the South African art market and the strong appetite for top quality works.”


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