Single-Owner Collection Of Botanical Art Triumphs In Strauss & Co’s June Online Sale

Strauss & Co’s June sale concluded on Monday with the diverse consignment of modern, post-war and contemporary art, decorative arts and fine wine finding buyers. The sale earned R6.5 million from 512 lots sold and achieved significant results for an important single-owner collection of botanical paintings and prints by some of the most significant South African women botanical artists.

Consigned by FirstRand, the selection of botanical art was offered in a stand-alone session and earned R259 357, well over the high estimate. The session achieved a 94% lot sell-through rate, with 30 of the 32 lots finding buyers. The top-selling lot was by Pretoria-born botanical artist Ellaphie Ward-Hillhorst, a watercolour and pencil rendering of the Namaqua gasteria, which sold for R35 175. The work was produced for a 1994 monograph on the aloe-like genus Gasteria written by succulent expert Ernst van Jaarsveld. Ten other examples from the series also found buyers.

The top-selling lot was a pair of bronze steenbok by renowned Pretoria sculptor Jo Roos, which achieved R117 250. Roos, who died in 2010, is best known for his animal sculptures and many public commissions.

Other notable lots sold included The Singing Fish, a colour lithograph by Spanish artist Joan Miró, which achieved R87 938. Another Pretoria artist, Adriaan Boshoff, posted the third highest price when his undated composition Vase of Zinnias sold for R64 488. Like Boshoff, Tinus de Jongh has a strong track record at auction; his Landscape with Mountains sold for R58 625. Sudanese artist Hussein Salim, who settled in Pietermaritzburg in 2004, was the only living artist in the top five; his Composition with Abstract Forms achieved R58 625.

The large online-only sale featured ten thematic sessions and commenced with a decorators’ cornucopia. Highlights from this session included a Gustav Spörri earthenware ewer moulded with geometric panels of blue, yellow and pale pink, which sold for R12 898, and a 19th century oak refectory table, which sold for R41 038. A handsome teak and brass-bound secrétaire campaign chest-on-chest sold for R52 763.

The June sale included dedicated sessions devoted to lots de-accessioned from two prominent corporate collections. Highlights from a session devoted to works from the KWV Collection included David Botha’s 1981 genre study Still Life with Jar and Apples, which sold for R41 038, and Zakkie Eloff’s ecstatic golden landscape Kalaharie (sic), which sold for R46 900. Two undated expressionist oils by émigré painter Pranas Domsaitis also achieved respectable prices:  Four Cottages against a Mountain sold for R44 555 and Abstract Landscape sold for R49 245.

Other notable art lots sold included two works by Walter Battiss: the undated watercolour Nasturtium which fetched R35 175, and a bronze Fook Island Coin which sold for R16 415. Appetite for Battiss remains strong, with 17 of the 20 lots in this sale finding buyers.

The sale concluded with a session featuring an impressive miscellany of Stellenbosch wines: Alto, Boschkloof, Chateau Libertas, Cordoba, De Torn, De Trafford, Delaire Graaf, Ernie Els, Glenelly, Hartenberg, Haskell, Jordan, Kanonkop, Keermont, Keet, Ken Forrester, Lanzerac, Le Riche, Meerlust, Miles Mossop, Morgenster, Mvemve Raats, Neil Ellis, Raats, Reyneke, Rust en Vrede, Rustenberg, Simonsig, Stark-Conde, Stellenzicht, Thelema, Tokara, Vergelegen, Vriesenhof, Warwick and Waterford Estate.

The wine session grossed R888 052 from 114 lots sold with an 89% lot sell-through rate. The top-selling wine lot was Mvemve Raats’s De Compostella (2008), which sold for R29 313. This highly rated Bordeaux-styled red wine is the product of a critically acclaimed collaboration between friends and winemakers Mzokhona Mvemve and Bruwer Raats.

Kanonkop Estate continued its run of excellent results at auction, with the Black Label Pinotage (2006) selling for R16 415 and the much-admired Paul Sauer (2015) achieving R22 278. Other notable sales included De Toren’s Bordeaux-style red Fusion V (2001), which sold for R16 415, and Glenelly’s esteemed cabernet Lady May (2011), which sold for R15 243.

The next auction in Strauss & Co’s annual programme of curated sales will commence on Monday, 5 July. This online-only sale will feature a generous offering of modern, post-war and contemporary art, decorative arts and fine wine, and concludes on Monday, 12 July.