Irma Stern’s Red Dress will sell in September

Irma Stern’s The Red Dress (1949) will auction at Bonhams London on September 13.

The painting is a delicate portrait of a young Cape Malay woman.

Irma Stern Red

Irma Stern often painted people from the Cape Malay culture 

Originally brought over as slaves from Dutch colonies in Indonesia, the Malay people were very much seen as an underclass in South Africa – making Stern’s celebrated portraits of the community highly political.

Giles Peppiatt, director of South African art at Bonhams, comments: "Although she spent much of her life in South Africa, Irma Stern felt unsettled by Capetonian high society and always viewed herself as something of an outsider…

“The Red Dress demonstrates a sympathy and mutual understanding between the white European artist and her subject."

The work is expected to make £250,000-350,000 ($325,730-456,022).

Stern is considered South Africa’s greatest artist. Her record is £3.1m ($4m) - also the record for any piece of South African art.

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