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The Grand Canal, Venice by Irma Stern leads Bonhams Modern and Contemporary African Art Sale
Grand Canal, Venice by Irma Stern. Estimate: £350,000-500,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Grand Canal, Venice by major South African artist, Irma Stern, leads Bonhams Modern and Contemporary African art Sale in London on Thursday 3 October. The bustling scene, depicting Venice’s main waterway, has an estimate of £350,000-500,000.

Stern painted Grand Canal, Venice after a trip to the Venice Biennale in 1945. The painting captures the breathtaking view of Venice’s Grand Canal stretching down to the Giardini della Biennale. The focal point of the painting is the fifteenth century church, the Santa Maria della Pietà, renowned for its beautiful ceiling frescoes by Italian painter, Giovanni Battista.

As many artists before her, Stern was entranced by the city, the ‘Queen of the Adriatic’. She was later invited to represent South Africa at the Biennale on two occasions, in 1950 and 1958; the crowning moments of her career.

Bonhams Director of Modern and Contemporary African Art, Giles Peppiatt said “Irma Stern is one of South Africa’s top-selling female artists of all time and we are honoured to offer this work in our sale. Stern not only manages to capture the magical quality of the canal but also the hustle and bustle of the city’s major artery”.

Other key works by Stern in the sale include a gestural and dynamic oil painting of Strelitzia, dated 1936, estimated at £30,000-50,000, and a watercolour Portrait of an Indian Woman, mounted in the artist’s original raffia frame, estimated at £20,000-30,000.

Other highlights include:

•Portrait of Marianne by Ben Enwonwu. One of Enwonwu’s most renowned paintings, it has an estimate of £150,000-200,000

• Fruits of Bali by Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff. This work is one of Tretchikoff most beloved and recognizable paintings and has an estimate of £200,000-300,000

• Raw Light, by Gerard Sekoto, an atmospheric depiction of Eastwood township executed before the artist’s self-imposed exile to Paris, has an estimate £120,000-180,000.

• The Orange Headscarf, Ben Enwonwu, 1962, has an estimate of £100,000-150,000.

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