A Natural Gem at Aspire Art Auctions

15 Mar 2017

By Riversideweg, Nuweland, a rare Pieter Wenning painting of a riverine landscape in Newlands, near Kirstenbosch, not only has an extensive exhibition history, but also a captivating history of ownership according to Emma Bedford, Director and Senior Art Specialist at Aspire Art Auctions. Estimated at R350 000 – 450 000, this gem will be offered at Aspire’s upcoming Inaugural Cape Auction to be held at the Avenue, V & A Waterfront, on 27 March 2017.

With a sole focus on fine art and extensive experience in the South African art market, the experts at Aspire place great emphasis on carefully researching each work offered on auction, unearthing the sometimes hidden histories surrounding the piece.

Dr WMR Malherbe purchased the work directly from the artist, and his descendants have cherished the work ever since. In many respects a pioneer, Malherbe was born in 1875 into the ZAR of President Paul Kruger where his father was State Treasurer. The young Mortie Malherbe was one of the ‘Transvaalsche jongens’ chosen by Kruger to be educated in the Netherlands, first in Deventer and then in Leiden, where he completed his school and university education between 1887 and 1907. It is here that he would have been introduced to the plein air painting of the Hague School as well as Impressionism and the beginnings of abstraction.

As a young lawyer, he returned to fight in the South African War (1899-1902) alongside Dietlof van Warmelo, later his brother-in-law. Anton van Wouw later included Van Warmelo’s portrait as soldier in the Voortrekker Monument. It was one of Van Warmelo’s sisters, Johanna Brandt, who became the infamous Kappie Kommando spy while his other sister married an English officer, Cloete of Alphen, Constantia. Mortie’s sister, Christina van Warmelo-Malherbe helped establish the first hospital in Muckleneuk while his brother, Kenny Malherbe, an attorney, married Mabel Malherbe, who was to become editor of Die Boerevrou, mayor of Pretoria and a parliamentarian. Her brother was Eugene Marais.

Dietlof and Mortie were, as prisoners of war, sent to Ceylon where the latter studied languages, eventually mastering 13. After the peace of 1902 was declared, he returned to the Netherlands to
complete his Doctor of Law degree before returning to South Africa, determined to change the lot of his fellow Afrikaners.

Dr Malherbe was appointed editor of Die Brandwag from 1913 where his primary task was the advancement of the Afrikaner people after the devastation of the South African War. Regular articles on South African art, poetry and criticism included the work of JH Pierneef, Erich Mayer, Eugene Marais, CJ Langenhoven and Totius. In 1920 Malherbe was appointed to establish a law faculty at Stellenbosch University with the aim of educating lawyers in Afrikaans.

Aspire Art Auctions’ compelling collection consists of rare and significant work by twentieth century artists, as well the strongest examples of contemporary art – ranging from artists such as JH Pierneef, Maud Sumner and Edoardo Villa; to Peter Clarke, Robert Hodgins and Christo Coetzee; to David Goldblatt, Athi-Patra Ruga, Mohau Modisakeng, and Wim Botha.

Inaugural Cape Town Auction 2017
Avenue | V & A Waterfront | 40 Dock Road | Cape Town
27 March 2017
Day Sale | 4pm
Evening Sale | 8pm

Auction preview:
Extended Hours: Friday 24 March | 10am to 7pm
Saturday 25 March | 10am to 5pm
Sunday 26 March | 10am to 4pm

Exhibition walkabouts:
Saturday 25 March & Sunday 26 March | 11am

For queries, please contact Emma Bedford | emma@aspireart.net | +27 83 391 7235

Instagram: @aspireartauctions | Facebook: @AspireArtAuctions | Twitter: @AspireArtSA

Image Caption
Pieter Wenning | By Riversideweg, Nuweland | oil on board | 21.5 x 29 cm | Image: Repro Pictures

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