'Serenitas fulgens' signed 'Ruth Everard Haden' (lower right) oil on canvas 89 x 117cm (35 1/16 x 46 1/16in).
PROVENANCE: Gifted by the artist to the current owner's parents on the occasion of their wedding, 1932
The present lot depicts the view of the Komati River Valley from Skurweberg, halfway between Bonnefoi and Lekkerdraai in the Eastern Transvaal. The Everards often camped there, and the young Ruth would have watched her mother, Bertha, painting there in the 1910s. The present lot is an obvious homage to Bertha's Looking towards Swaziland, painted in 1920/21 and now in the collection of the Pretoria Art Museum. Often considered Bertha's masterpiece, it was exhibited in London at the Royal Academy in 1923, at the Paris Salon in 1924 and at the South African Academy in 1929:
"The shimmering iridescence of the expansive valley always bewitched Bertha, and in the summer of 1920/21, when the family again camped at Skurweberg, she succumbed to it and executed a remarkable painting which the family spontaneously and unanimously called Opal Valley." (Harmsen, 1980, p.57)
"It was painted from the very edge of the escarpment. Massive grotesque rocks define the end of the plateau, and serve as a telescopic frame for the breath-taking valley with the gleaming river winding through it. The imperious peaks of Swaziland rise in the far distance. A bright blue sky is invaded by blindingly white thunderclouds." (Harmsen, 1980, p.58)
Following several years spent studying painting in England and France, Ruth returned to the family farms in the Eastern Transvaal for a year's holiday in 1928. Though the present lot is signed "Ruth Everard-Haden", therefore suggesting that it was painted after the artist's marriage in November 1929, it may well be the same painting as the lost Blue Komati:
"Mrs Haden today maintains that the first picture she [Ruth] painted in South Africa in 1928 was Blue Komati, a work listed in several catalogues, but, since it was sold to an unknown buyer some time during the thirties, it has not been traced." (Harmsen, 1980, p.142-143)
The current owner's father had been a great friend of the Everard family since 1926, and Ruth had promised the painting to him as a wedding gift when he visited Bonnefoi in February or April 1932 (the wedding was in May).
Ruth was obviously proud of this painting, as she submitted the work to the Royal Institute Galleries for their summer exhibition in 1937.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Harmsen, The Women of Bonnefoi, (Pretoria, 1980)