By CITYLIFE/ARTS Writer
A delightful bounty of 2012 vintage wines, historical English and Cape country furniture and eye-catching portraits by South African painters offered by Strauss & Co in a trio of online-only auctions yielded excellent results. The three specialist auctions, which ended at staggered intervals on 14 March 2022, attracted interested buyers from a dozen countries and netted a combined total of R7.3 million.
“We are thrilled with the amount of competitive bidding that took place throughout the auction, which resulted in fantastic results for a number of artists, specifically Heather Gourlay-Conynham, Alexis Preller and Lionel Smit featured in the portrait session, as well as Frans Oerder and Nicola Samori,” says Strauss & Co art specialist Arisha Maharaj, who coordinated the art department’s bumper six-session art auction.
The art department earned a combined total of R6.3 million in sales, with a satisfactory lot sell-through rate of 65%. The top-selling art lot was Alexis Preller’s fetching watercolour and mixed media composition Sketch for the Flower King, which sold for R351 750.
Italian contemporary artist Nicola Samori’s mixed-media composition Revenant III (2004) sold for an estimate-beating R293 125. Other noteworthy art lots sold included two undated flower studies by Frans Oerder, a master of this evergreen genre. Cape impressionist Hugo Naudé’s endearing composition Cape Dutch Farm House in Mountain Landscape was exhibited in his 1969 retrospective at the Pretoria Art Museum and sold for R152 425.
Bidder interest in a striking work by Heather Gourlay-Conyngham saw the KwaZulu-Natal artist’s self-portrait after Dutch painter Jan van Eyck’s 1433 Portrait of a Man sell for R128 975, well above estimate. Gourlay-Conyngham is a past winner of the National Portrait Award sponsored by Sanlam Private Investments and at the invitation of Arisha Maharaj agreed to co-curate a successful portrait-themed session. A print edition of Ugandan artist Benon Lutaaya’s 2013 profile portrait Eternal Hope included in this session also surpassed expectations when it sold for R46 900.
The decorative arts department presented 63 lots of historical English and Cape country furniture in a single session. Interest in three items from the Channel Islands, a rarity in the South African market, saw a panelled oak cupboard sell well above estimate for R37 520. A Scottish oak bookcase purchased from a vicarage in Dundee and George III oak cricket table also achieved solid results. Enthusiasm for historical Cape furniture saw bidding exceed the four-figure estimates for a Cape yellowwood kist and peg-top table, with each item selling for R19 933. The decorative arts auction earned R408 617 with a solid lot sell-through rate of 73%.
The wine department continued to achieve impressive results, with 75 of the 83 lots in the auction of 2012-vintage wines finding buyers. The tally of top-selling wines was evenly split between South African and international producers. Mouton Rothschild’s Pauillac fetched the top price of R64 488, followed by Delaire Graff’s Laurence Graff Reserve, sold for R35 175, and Alheit Vineyards’ Radio Lazarus, sold for R29 313.
The demographic of bidders for the curated selection of fine wines by producers such as Figeac, Haut-Brion, Kanonkop, Pape Clément and Vilafonté was noticeably younger, while the lots in the art sale attracted the widest range of international bidders, pointing to the breadth of interest in South African art abroad.
Strauss & Co’s next auction is a live auction and will be held over four consecutive days (3-6 April 2022) at Brickfield Canvas, a creative and tech campus in Woodstock, Cape Town. Auction highlights include four outstanding paintings by the highly collectable artist Irma Stern, a trove of excellent works by leading artists Maggie Laubser, Sydney Khumalo, George Pemba, Alexis Preller and Thania Peterson, as well as three single-owner collections of English and Asian decorative arts.