Scenes of open ranges and domestic beauty by a diverse list of artists substantially contributed to Strauss & Co’s positive June online sale, which earned R5.6 million from the 72% lots sold. JH Pierneef, a master of spaciousness and rural quiet, was the star performer, with three works by him placing in the top ten lots sold.
“This is the third sale we have hosted during the health lockdown and the second online-only sale,” says Strauss & Co’s joint managing director Bina Genovese. “The lot and value sell-through rates once again exceeded our expectations. Wine continues to perform exceptionally well on our online platforms, and the Pierneef market is holding strong after a solid rebound last year.”
The top-selling lot was Pierneef’s undated oil, Bushveld Landscape, a work in which theatrical design is subordinated to fine brushwork. It fetched R351 750. Adept at recording the changeable light as day passes into night, Pierneef’s undated oil, Extensive Landscape, Dusk, sold for R187 600. A mixed-media portrait of fashion model Kate Moss by French-born, Los Angeles-based street artist Mr. Brainwash (aka Thierry Guetta) rounded off the top three lots sold, fetching R175 875.
“These are very high prices for our online-only sale and a marker of the confidence buyers have in our digital platform,” says Genovese. “Of the 516 registered bidders 194 were successful buyers, and more than a third of these buyers (41%) were new clients. Our message is spreading far and wide. We saw bidders from ten countries, including Australia, Germany and Qatar. The younger age profile is also encouraging.”
The art component of the sale which included a healthy mix of historical and contemporary artists contributed the lion’s share to the final tally. Notable lots sold included a 1977 watercolour by Walter Battiss, Still Life with a Jug of Flowers and Fruit, which sold for R140 700, and Lippy Lipshitz’s burnt marble Torso, which also surpassed expectations when it sold for R70 350. There was robust bidding for the six lots by prematurely deceased painter Walter Meyer, whose Ruined Building from 2004 sold for R99 663. Other artists who performed well included Robert Hodgins, Gerhard Batha and Pieter van der Westhuizen, whose two sun-drenched landscapes beat expectations.
Amongst the selection of English and Continental silver pieces featured in the Decorative Arts section, the eye-catching George IV hot water jug, Hyam Hyams, London, 1828, ornately moulded with Greek mythological sea-gods sold for R17 588, whilst the Victorian silver-mounted glass claret jug, William Hutton & Sons, London, 1892 matched this selling price and also sold for R17 588. The pair of George V silver chocolate pots by Cooper Brothers & Sons Ltd, Sheffield, 1912 fetched R10 553, which was double the low estimate. Oriental silver was represented by a wonderful Japanese milk jug, Meiji period, 1868-1912, moulded with irises and foliage, which surpassed its estimate dramatically selling for R7 622.
A popular segment of Strauss & Co’s digital offering, the wine session, focussed on South Africa’s heritage varieties of Chenin and Pinotage. The Pinotage selection from Kanonkop performed well with a special Salmanzar (9 litre) 2010 selling for R 11 725. Six-bottles of Beeslaar 2012 also fetched R14 070.
The Sadie Family offerings once again sold well with a South African white wine record in three-bottles of 2017 Mev Kirsten selling for R18 760! Six-bottle lots of Alheit Vineyards Radio Lazarus 2016 and Ken Forrester The FMC 2009 also trounced estimates, selling for R30 485 and R32 830 respectively. Solid overall results confirmed the healthy prices obtained in Strauss & Co’s white-glove sale of Bordeaux-style wines in May. Of the 85 wine lots offered in its June online-only sale, 81 found buyers.
Strauss & Co will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this auction to the Solidarity Fund. Every weekday at 4pm, Strauss & Co hosts a themed Talkabout on Zoom as part of its marketing and education drive. In the lead up to its June online-only sale, Strauss & Co’s senior art specialist Alastair Meredith drew attention to German-born Erich Mayer’s achievements. This directed focus paid dividends. All four lots by Mayer, an accomplished watercolourist, found buyers, with Bushveld Scene with Ox Cart from 1945 selling for R32 830.
Strauss & Co will continue with its energetic weekday digital assemblies throughout the winter months of June and July, highlighting artists and works appearing on its next online-only sale (29 June – 6 July) and hybrid virtual sale (27 July), as well as drawing attention to important South African museums. To join Strauss & Co’s the Zoom Talkabout login here:
Meeting ID: 833 5800 2411