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Lot 513*
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966) Black lilies
£300,000 - 500,000
US$ 470,000 - 780,000
amended

Lot Details
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
Black lilies
signed and dated 'Irma Stern / 1941' (lower left); further signed, titled and inscribed 'Irma Stern Black Lilies, 75G / The Firs Chapel Road, Rosebank Cape Town' (verso)
oil on canvas
69 x 64cm (27 3/16 x 25 3/16in).

Footnotes

  • At her 1930 exhibition in Paris, Stern was critical of herself for repetition of her colour schemes. It was at this stage that she realised her still lifes were the exception to such repetition, and she determined to build up her knowledge of colour through them, to dazzling effect.

    Beautiful and elegant, black calla lilies are dramatic and rare blossoms thought to have originated in Africa. For Irma Stern, whose sumptuous still lifes compose some of her greatest masterpieces, black lilies would have been a unique and fresh addition to the genre which she loved so much and which provided her with the opportunity for so much artistic freedom. In the present work, and quite rarely for Stern, the delicacy of Black lilies lies very much with the dramatic silhouette of the flowers against the pale blue background. The dark buds are the perfect medium with which to demonstrate her confident brushstrokes and sure draughtsmanship. And most importantly, Stern has noticed that black lilies are not actually black but rather deep maroon and she has captured the fact by contrasting them with a truly black vase, utilising the effects of light and shadow to demonstrate her profound understanding of the nuances of colour.

Saleroom notices

  • IMPORTANT NOTICE: The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) has declared this lot a work of national importance and has declined a permit for its export. Therefore it is not subject to VAT on either the hammer price or the buyer's premium. The lot will be available for viewing at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg. Payment for this lot may be made in Sterling in London or in South African Rand through our Johannesburg office using the published rate of exchange on the date of the auction. Collection must be made through our Johannesburg office. Please contact the department for further information.
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