Strauss & Co’s art specialists make an interesting find

2019-02-20 15:00
Senior art specialists Dr Alastair Meredith and Wilhelm van Rensburg and Strauss & Co executive director Susie Goodman pose with this important mid-century Walter Battiss painting at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg.

Senior art specialists Dr Alastair Meredith and Wilhelm van Rensburg and Strauss & Co executive director Susie Goodman pose with this important mid-century Walter Battiss painting at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg. (Strauss & Co)

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A Walter Battiss painting is among the exciting finds uncovered during Strauss & Co’s Antiques Roadshow-style valuation day at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pieter­maritzburg.

Executive director Susie Goodman said the work, a family heirloom that had been handed down to the current owners, was “a fine example of his abstract phase”, adding: “What fun to find this at the Tatham today”.

What makes the find more interesting is that Battiss’ exhibition at the Tatham in 1972 was closed by the police due to complaints about his five famous orgy screen prints. 

The abstract painter and creator of the quirky Fook Island concept has become an artist whose work is extremely sought after.

Last year Strauss & Co sold Battiss’ work People Who Live Under Tables for R1 024 200; while Birds and Flowers went under the hammer for R682 800.

This abstract piece is expected to “go for a couple of hundred thousand rand” at auction.

Also brought into the gallery in Chief Albert Luthuli Street yesterday was a small landscape work by Gregoire Johannes Boonzaier, painted in 1950.

The artist was well-known for his landscapes, portraits and still lifes, a famous exponent of Cape Impressionism and a contributor, through his art, to the struggle against apartheid.

A note on the rear of the painting says it was sold for 10 guineas around the year it was painted.

It is expected to be go on auction with Strauss & Co with a reserve price of R20 000.

Strauss & Co executive director, Susie Goodman, is pictured with the Gregoire Johannes Boonzaier painting brought into the Tatham Art Gallery on Tuesday. 

Other works which got Goodman and senior art specialists Dr Alastair Meredith and Wilhelm van Rensburg excited were four beautiful paintings by Hilton artist Susan Helm Davies and three wooden sculptures made by her husband, Henry. Both artists worked as lecturers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the two beautiful Walter Oltmann pencil drawings found at last year’s roadshow were in their possession from when Oltmann was a student.

One of Susan’s new works, Ian’s Fishy Dishy, was inspired by a ceramic bowl she spotted amongst a host of other ceramics when she paid fellow artist Ian Calder a visit. “I saw it and just had to paint it,” she said.

Another intriguing work was an architectural sketch of the Old Mutual building in Johannesburg, created by Duthie Ritchie, of Stuckie Harrison Architects.

The work has been hanging on the wall of Lowell O’Shea’s Howick home for “umpteen years”, he told The Witness.

“We are moving into a smaller home and we’ll find it difficult to accommodate a painting of this size in the new house,” he said. “That’s why we brought it down today and why we hope to sell it.”

The drawing came into his possession about 10 years ago when the firm, where he had worked, closed.

The Strauss & Co valuation day was obligation free, with the fee of R30 per item going to the Friends of the Tatham Art Gallery (Fotag), which aims to help the gallery buy new works for its permanent collection. The works will be auctioned at Strauss & Co’s April online auction and a live sale in Johannesburg in May.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  arts
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