Old-world heritage and a dash of spring

Art and wine under the hammer

05 September 2021 | Art and Entertainment

SA auctioneer Strauss & Co shared details about their forthcoming live virtual sale, Impression/Expression: from Hugo Naudé to Georgina Gratrix, taking place on Tuesday, 14 September 2021 at 18:00.

The 90-lot sale, which will be livestreamed from Johannesburg, broadly explores the legacies of impressionism and expressionism, two important western art movements, in South African art.

The single-session auction includes a tailored selection of art lots, including two lots apiece by auction trailblazers JH Pierneef and Irma Stern, as well as five icon wines, among them an 1821 vintage of Grand Constance, South Africa’s oldest and most illustrious wine brand.

The sale is expected to earn up to N$14 million and includes Stern’s Bathers at Nice, a 1965 oil portraying three naked bathers on the French Riviera (estimate R1.5 – 2 million).

“The sale, which is exclusively composed of works by South African artists, helps make sense of some of the many stylistic and conceptual shifts that have taken place in this country over the past century,” says Alastair Meredith, who heads up Strauss & Co’s art department.

“Many of the works in Impression/Expression, whether painted or sculpted, mid-century or contemporary, can sit comfortably in the impressionism or expressionism categories. Works from each school, however can still be tied together by theme, tone, impulse or style. Impressionist pictures, for instance, can capture the transience of light, can be stirred by modernity, and in pursuit of atmospheric sensation. Many expressionist works, moreover, are made with instinct, are defined by intimacy, and drawn to visual anarchy. The works in Impression/Expression are presented with these often overlapping attributes in mind.”

And from the ladies…

The sale also includes an exciting crop of contemporary women artists, including Maaike Bakker, Io Makandal, Yolanda Mazwana, Lucy Jane Turpin and Kylie Wentzel. Their diverse practices are contextualized by the inclusion of works by prominent earlier artists such as Leonora Everard-Haden, Maggie Laubser, Judith Mason, Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi, Nita Spilhaus and Hannatjie van der Wat.

As a complement to this historically minded sale of art, Strauss & Co’s wine department has arranged a unique selection of five iconic wines of considerable age. Unlike the deep wine heritage of Europe, few bottles of very old South African wine remain today. The marquee lot, and arguably the rarest South African wine, is the 1821 Grand Constance (estimate N$300 000 – N$500 000), of which only a dozen bottles still exist.

The wine offering also includes the GS 1966 Cabernet (estimate N$30 000 – N$40 000), an experimental Durbanville Cabernet Sauvignon made by George Spies of Monis in 1966 and 1968, and the 1957 Chateau Libertas Red (estimate N$17 000 – N$25 000). Both wines have received perfect scores from international wine experts. The offering also includes an 1800 Muscat d'Alexandrie, an incredibly unique solera-style sweet wine (estimate N$50 000 – N$70 000). Closing out the selection is a rare 1987 vintage of Klein Constantia’s Vin de Constance (estimate N$25 000 – N$35 000).

Since these wines have been stored over multiple generations, provenance is of supreme importance and each bottle carries a story of winemaking and ownership. The 1821 Grand Constance, for instance, was purchased on auction in London as part of a large collection in 1983 by the Malan family of Simonsig Estate, while the bottle of 1800 Muscat d’Alexandrie was drawn from a barrel of 1800 Muscat that has been under the Jaubert family’s custodianship ever since. Importantly, recent tastings have confirmed the vinosity and sheer brilliance of the wines being offered.

An e-catalogue containing short essays and descriptive notes will be available on Strauss & Co’s website [email protected]

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