African art creates a £2.6m splash at Bonhams

Bonhams' seventh sale of South African Art in London, yesterday (March 24), proved a big success.

Out of a total of 135 works by 42 artists, 82% sold making a total of £2.6m (R28.5m) achieved by this sale, the seventh South African Art Sale in five years at Bonhams.

Works by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto and Maggie Laubser all beat their pre-sale estimates. The top priced work in the sale was by Pierneef, titled 'An Extensive View of Farmlands which sold for £356,000 (R3.9m) against an estimate of £120,000 to £180,000.

By Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957), sold for £356,000

The sale's catalogue cover lot by Gerard Sekoto, Market Street Scene, Cape Town, sold for £192,000 (R2.1m) against an estimate of £120,000 to £180,000. And a Maggie Laubser, Woman Wearing a Red Doek, estimated at £20,000 to £30,000 sold for £50,400 (R554,000).

"Once again we have been delighted by the response from buyers. You would not have known in the saleroom today that we are cautiously emerging from the worst recession in 80 years," commented Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art at Bonhams after the sale.

"The mood was buoyant, the bidding brisk and the prices excellent. After five years of selling South African art, I feel that this is not a blip or a fashion but the start of a long march to real international recognition and appreciation of this vibrant art from the tip of Africa."

Gerard Sekoto's (1913-1993) Market Street Scene, Cape Town, sold for

Two potentially controversial items in the auction sold privately before the auction, a South African flag that had been flown by helicopter at Mandela presidential inauguration and a signed copy of the Kliptown ANC Freedom Charter.

The former was bought by a private benefactor and the latter in a deal negotiated by Bonhams and the Lilliesleaf Foundation in South Africa.

A Christie's auction of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art also proved successful on March 23, including a Syed Haider Raza's 1989 work, Gestation, for $1,202,500.


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