Woman with a vessel: study for Discovery signed and dated 'Preller 62' (lower right); inscribed '5' (verso) oil on canvas 61 x 51cm (24 x 20 1/16in).
Preller travelled to Italy and Egypt in 1953 to study fresco murals in preparation for his public commission for the Johannesburg office of the Receiver of Revenue. The present lot is a study for another public commission, an oil mural for the conference room of the Transvaal Provincial Administration building in Pretoria. Discovery was Preller's magnum opus, and dominated much of the artist's time from 1958 to 1962. Measuring 3 x 12 metres, the work represents the discovery of the Cape in the 15th century, as a result of the search for a sea route around Africa, related to the contemporary sputnik explorations into space.
The figure depicted in the present lot can be seen on the right hand side of the central panel (illustrated in Berman 1983, p.354). The mural, a preparatory pencil study for which is in the Pretoria Art Museum (Berman 1972, cat. no.195), will also feature on the cover of the forthcoming monograph on Alexis Preller by Esmé Berman and Karel Nel.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Berman (ed.), Alexis Preller retrospective, exh. cat., (Pretoria, 1972) E. Berman, Art & Artists of South Africa, (Cape Town, 1983)