Girl with a flower signed and dated 'Preller '40' (upper left) oil on canvas 45 x 39.5cm (17 11/16 x 15 9/16in).
LITERATURE: C. Truter, Alexis Preller, with notes by Christi Truter, (Pretoria, 1947), illus. no. 4
PROVENANCE: Acquired directly from the artist before 1947 by Joan Meinard Donker Thence by descent to the present owner
Joan (Jo) Meinard Donker (1987-1954) was trade representative for the Netherlands in Johannesburg from 1935 to 1940, and was appointed commercial secretary at Pretoria on 1 April 1940, where he remained until 1949. From 1950, Donker was Consul-General in Nairobi, Kenya, until his death in that country.
Alexis Preller, with text written by Christi Truter and the artist, was published by Walter Battiss under his imprint, Maroola Press. The publication features one colour plate and twenty-two black and white images of works completed between 1936 and 1947.
Painted after the outbreak of the Second World War and the year Preller joined the Field Ambulance Corps, the present work depicts an exotic, if enigmatic, young woman wearing a red headscarf, perhaps a subject he encountered while 'up North', possibly in East Africa. During the course of the conflict, Preller was a prisoner of war in North Africa and Italy. He returned to South Africa in 1943.
We are grateful to Hans den Hollander at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his assistance with details pertaining to Joan Meinard Donker.