An iconic Irma Stern 1943 painting titled ‘Portrait of Freda Feldman in Basuto Hat’ has finally returned to South African shores and will go on sale on Monday.
The work is expected to fetch between R5 million and R7 million along with the original Basotho hat (or mokorotlo) worn by the sitter.
Alastair Meredith‚ an art specialist from Strauss & Co‚ said the portrait was specifically significant because of the relationship between Stern and Feldman.
Meredith said that Stern would stay with the family while she was in Johannesburg painting intimate portraits of different members of the family.
“Irma Stern is the most well known South African artist. This is a very important example of her work… many of Stern’s portraits are quite loosely painted‚ quite freely rendered whereas this example is much more tightly painted.
“One gets the sense that there was a huge amount of love and respect and time and care that went into the painting of her friend essentially‚” Meredith said.
The pair met when Feldman (née Ginsburg) married prominent businessman and public intellectual Richard Feldman‚ who‚ along with respected photographer and art dealer Leon Levson‚ was part of an influential group of Jewish patrons who greatly aided Stern‚ particularly during her early career.
The friendship with Stern went far deeper than patronage. They acquired pieces they loved from Stern whenever they could‚ and had an ongoing financial arrangement with her‚ paying her in instalments for a particular works. No sooner had they paid off one painting than they would begin again‚ Strauss & Co said in a statement.
Irma Stern ranks alongside Georgia O’Keeffe and Louise Bourgeois among the 10 most expensive women artists sold at auction globally between 2005-15. Strauss & Co has sold the five highest-priced Stern paintings in South Africa‚ and set the South African record for a work by the artist – also the record for a work of art in South Africa – when Two Arabs sold for R21‚166‚ 000 in 2011.
The work which was in a private collection in Australia will go under the hammer with over 350 other works at the Wanderers Club. The artworks will be open to the public from Friday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.
Source: Times Live