Bonhams reports that its sale of South African art in London yesterday made £2.75m led far and away by this Irma Stern portrait:
Bonhams sale of South African art saw an Irma Stern (1894-1966) titled ‘Zanzibar Woman’ break through the million pound mark to make a total of £1,082,500 (R19,289,760).
The top ten paintings in this sale included another Stern painting titled ’Istanbul’ for £326,500, three Alexis Prellers, two Pierneefs, an Alfred Neville Lewis, a George Pemba and a Stella Shawzin. In total the sale made over £2.75million (just under ZAR50million)
Hannah O’Leary, Head of South African Art at Bonhams, comments, “Despite the Rand currently trading at its lowest rate against the pound for many years, today we saw bidding on the best works as hotly contested as ever. We are delighted that ‘Zanzibar Woman’ fetched over £1million, just shy of ZAR20million, placing it among the highest prices for Irma Stern’s work, and rightly so. New world record prices were set for Stella Shawzin (‘Balancing Figures II’ £76,900) and Neville Lewis (‘The peach pickers, Franschhoek’ £56,250), in both cases smashing their previous records, also set here at Bonhams in London, three times over. Bonhams now holds the world record prices for all of South Africa’s most significant artists, including Irma Stern (£3,044,000), J.H. Pierneef (£826,400), Alexis Preller (£748,000), Gerard Sekoto (£602,400) and Stanley Pinker (£337,250) among others, thus cementing Bonhams position as the undisputed global leader in the market for South African art.”
Irma Stern’s ‘Zanzibar Woman’, 1939, is an oil on canvas within its original Zanzibar frame, which makes it of additional interest to keen collectors of this artist’s work. This vibrant portrait in was acquired directly from the artist in the 1950s and by direct family descent to the current owner.