Attributed to J. Walker (British, active circa 1840-1851) A set of 15 Cape character studies each 24.2 x 17.2cm (9 1/2 x 6 3/4in). (15)
Lot 3
Attributed to J. Walker (British, active circa 1840-1851) A set of 15 Cape character studies each 24.2 x 17.2cm (9 1/2 x 6 3/4in). (15)
Sold for £6,600 (US$ 10,341) inc. premium

Lot Details
Attributed to J. Walker (British, active circa 1840-1851) A set of 15 Cape character studies Attributed to J. Walker (British, active circa 1840-1851) A set of 15 Cape character studies
Attributed to J. Walker (British, active circa 1840-1851)
A set of 15 Cape character studies
most signed with initials 'JW', inscribed with titles and numbered; one inscribed 'Hottentot - not a disciple of Father Walker',
pencil and watercolour
each 24.2 x 17.2cm (9 1/2 x 6 3/4in). (15)

Footnotes

  • These watercolours, or versions of them, were reproduced in Sketches of Some of the Various Classes and Tribes inhabiting the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope (London, 1851), and each is numbered with the corresponding plate number in the upper right corner. A large number of similar watercolours are in the collection of Museum Africa in Johannesburg, and the Mendelssohn Collection in the Library of Parliament.

    Often attributed to 'J. Walker', these watercolours are only signed with the initials 'J.W.', leading to some speculation as to whether his name is Walker at all (see 'The Mysterious "J.W."' in A. Gordon-Brown, Pictoral Art in South Africa, (London, 1952). The name came from the attribution to Mr G.J. Walker, given with the Mendelssohn Collection. The anonymous author of Sketches... only tells us:

    "The originals of these Sketches are from the talented pencil of a gentleman many years resident at the Cape, and were taken by him from Nature during an Expedition into the Interior."

    Gordon-Brown speculates that J.W. could stand for the Rev. J.F. Weideman, who was appointed Chaplain at Robben Island in 1851, but dismisses this theory almost instantly when considering the best-selling picture of the drunk Hottentot woman dancing. The inscription on that work in the present lot, 'Hottentot - not a disciple of Father Walker', does indicate that the artist may well have been a member of the clergy, and was named Walker after all. One possible candidate is Joseph Walker, one of the 1820 settlers to Grahamstown, referred to as the Rev. Father Walker in W. Taylor, Christian Adventures in South Africa (1967).
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