Strauss & Co’s Online Auction Platform Builds Bridges for the Arts During Lockdown!


UPDATE: A message from Chairperson, Frank Kilbourn

In light of the evolving global COVID-19 outbreak and the national lockdown, our Cape Town auction of 19th Century, Modern, Contemporary and Post-War Art, Decorative Arts, Jewellery and Wine was rescheduled to take place on 10 and 11 May 2020 and we are pleased to confirm that it will go ahead on these dates.

The health and safety of our employees, clients and visitors continue to be our first priority. As a result, the auction has been changed to a live virtual auction format, replicating a saleroom scenario, with an auctioneer conducting the sale live, in isolation. It will be live-streamed to the audience who will be able to bid online from the comfort of their homes, in real-time, lot by lot, as the auction happens.

Strauss & Co will bring the auction to our clients in partnership with Invaluable.com, the world’s leading international platform for buying art, antiques and collectables online. Invaluable.com hosts hundreds of auctions and provides a fair, safe, public and accessible auction platform all year round. This partnership will expand our reach internationally, for the benefit of buyers and sellers alike.

Our April Online auction during lockdown was our most successful yet, with enthusiastic participation from local and international collectors, demonstrating the resilience of the fine art and decorative art markets, and the adaptability of buyers in moving over to digital processes.

Our staff is available to provide information about the upcoming lots, detailed condition reports via e-mail, face-time viewings of particular lots, one-on-one virtual meetings on a preferred platform and information about how to view and bid on the auction.

The virtual auction is already live on the Strauss & Co website, www.straussart.co.za, or it can be accessed by visiting invaluable.com:
Prospective buyers can register online and place bids now.
On 10 and 11 May 2020 the live auction will be webcast and prospective buyers will be able to bid live on the Strauss & Co website as the sale proceeds.

The auction consists of 5 sessions and will proceed in real-time as per the schedule below:

Sunday 10 May
Session 1: at 11am, Lots 1 – 120
A South African and International Fine Wine Bordeaux style themed sale including the finest and rarest wines from South Africa and Bordeaux.

Monday 11 May
Session 2: at 10am, Lots 121 – 290
Jewellery, English Silver, Ceramics, Glass, and English, Continental and Contemporary Furniture.

Session 3: at 2pm Lots 291 – 430
Oriental Ceramics and Works of Art; Property of a Collector – The Late Lady Ina Oppenheimer Blue Bird Farm Collection; Property of Kangra Group (Pty) Ltd, assembled by the Late Graham and Rhona Beck.

Session 4: at 5pm – Day Sale, Lots 431 – 540
19th Century, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art.

Session 5: at 7.30pm – Evening Sale Lots 541- 656
Important 19th Century, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art.

The Preview
COVID-19 regulations allowing, the preview will take place by appointment from Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 May, from 10am to 5pm in two separate venues as follows:

Strauss & Co
The Oval, First Floor Colinton House,
1 Oakdale Road, Newlands
Jewellery, English Silver, Ceramics, Glass and select items of Furniture
Day Sale Paintings, lots 431-540
Welgemeend Homestead
corner Welgemeend and Lingen Street, Gardens
Evening Session Paintings, Lots 541-656
Select items of Furniture

Join our daily Zoom.us virtual talkabouts with Strauss & Co specialists and guest speakers in conversation about the highlights of the sale. Visit www.straussart.co.za for the schedule and the log-in link.

Lockdown has forced us all to change the way we live and do business, and we are excited by the potential this new direction holds. We are confident that we have made the right decision to proceed with the sale in this new live virtual auction format on a tried-and-tested digital platform, which will reach buyers far and wide and achieve the best possible results for our consignors.

We thank you for your continued patience and support and wish you well in these unusual times.

Kind regards
Frank Kilbourn


Strauss & Co’s forthcoming online auction of Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Asian Arts, Jewellery and Wine, which runs from 6 to 14 April, offers collectors an opportunity to acquire exciting works in various media while respecting the terms of the public health lockdown. Highlights include a stirring portfolio by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Greg Marinovich, an imaginative depiction of a dog by Norman Catherine, and important portfolio of prints by Diane Victor, an edition of which is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.


“Launched in 2013, Strauss & Co’s online sales have acquired their own identity and now form an important part of our annual programme of events,” says Susie Goodman, an executive director at Strauss & Co. “The format of the sale allows us to offer a broad range of works at various price points in a manner that caters to everyone from emerging collectors to seasoned aficionados. We are constantly attracting new collectors. Our March online sale registered 132 new buyers.”

Sculpture, painting, printmaking and photography feature strongly in the offering of works.

Norman Catherine’s Dog Watch (estimate R80 000 – 120 000) is from a small edition of five bronzes and portrays a cartoonish dog with a human head affixed to its back. The sale also includes one of Catherine’s much-loved painted wood sculptures, Blue Figure (estimate R20 000 – 30 000). Two of the three works by celebrated sculptor Jackson Hlungwani depict female subjects. Pregnant Woman (estimate R12 000 – 16 000) is an evocative study of the continuity of human life. Hlungwani’s practice is the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at the Norval Foundation.

Alexander Rose-Innes undated oil, De Leeu Street, District Six, CT (R 120 000 – 180 000), leads a wide selection of historical painting. Rose-Innes is best known for his street scenes depicting Cape Town’s Malay Quarter and District Six. A 1971 study of District Six by Gregoire Boonzaier (estimate R15 000 – 20 000) forms part of a striking consignment of four watercolours by this cofounder of the New Group of artists.

New Group member Cecil Higgs was celebrated in her lifetime for her enigmatic and abstracted portrayal of marine subjects. The sale includes two works in this genre, notably Sea-Curl (estimate R 20 000 – 30 000), which is illustrated in Esmé Berman’s Art & Artists of South Africa (page 187). Pondoland Forest (estimate R30 000 – 50 000) abstractly portrays the Wild Coast region of the Eastern Cape, which Higgs visited in 1952.

Painted in 1966, Ephraim Ngatane’s Still Life with Newspaper (estimate R 40 000 – 60 000) is another noteworthy in oil. The sale also features striking watercolours by Walter Battiss and Gwelo Goodman. Other notable painters on offer include Bettie Cilliers-Barnard, Trevor Coleman and Speelman Mahlangu, all represented by abstract composition. Artists working in a figurative mode include Walter Meyer (three desert landscapes) and Sipho Ndlovu (equine study and landscape).

Greg Marinovich’s Dead Zone (estimate R200 000 – 300 000), a portfolio of 41 digital photographic prints depicting South Africa’s tumultuous transition to democracy, leads a robust selection of photography with a musical theme. Pierre Crocquet’s studies of Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba (estimate R 6 000 – 9 000 each) were both taken at Joy of Jazz, a festival in Johannesburg. Two lots by Roger Ballen depict members of the avant-garde pop band Die Antwoord in stylised interior settings (estimate R15 000 – 20 000).

Aside from Marinovich’s portfolio, the sale includes two other important portfolios. Made between 2001 and 2003, Diane Victor’s Disasters of Peace (estimate R 50 000 – 70 000) comprises 16 prints that imaginatively reinterpret Francisco Goya’s print portfolio The Disasters of War (1810-20). Self-published in 1951 by Walter Battiss, Fragments of Africa (estimate R 18 000 – 24 000) comprises 21 folders with cut-out windows each with one or two prints in single or full-colour, in various media.

Other notable works on paper include a combined lot of two etchings by Peter Clarke, Blue Monday and Evening Over Devil’s Peak (estimate R 8 000 – 12 000). The works were gifted by the artist to the seller, Mzwakhe Nhlabatsi, a well-known figure in anti-apartheid publishing in 1980s Johannesburg. Judith Mason’s three lots, Eyes Right I-III (estimate R 40 000 – 60 000 each), derive from a 2009 series of lithographic prints with unique added drawings that were exhibited in Miami in 2016.

South Africa has a strong tradition of printmaking. The sale includes early-career works by JH Pierneef, Cyprian Shilakoe and John Muafangejo, all accomplished printmakers. Muafangejo hailed from Namibia, a country whose distinctive art history is registered in eight works on paper from the estate of collector Wolfgang Biederlack.

“Our online platform offers collectors all the tools to make informed, real-time decisions,” says Susie Goodman. “Collectors have the option of using a visualisation tool to enlarge and differently view works, can immediately view conditions reports, and also access our database of past auction results that extend back to 2009. Another key feature is that the process is absolutely discrete.”

Visit www.straussart.co.za.

Please note that due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and the current national lockdown, Strauss & Co is remotely conducting business. Normal work schedules, however, remain in place. Should you wish to discuss bidding on this sale, or consignments and valuations for future sales, please feel free to contact our specialists. Strauss & Co wish all their clients good health and wellbeing during this stressful period.

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