South West African mountains signed and dated 'J.H Pierneef 44' (lower left) oil on canvas 46 x 61.5cm (18 1/8 x 24 3/16in).
Pierneef visited South West Africa for the first time in 1923, arriving in late April. "Pierneef was elated and threw himself wholeheartedly into making numerous sketches and paintings of the region. It is claimed that some of his best works were done at that time: 'Furthermore the scenes from South West Africa formed the foundation for many of his later works and were certainly the introduction to a formative period in his art with respect to the South African landscape.'
The present work, painted in 1944, is an example of how South West Africa stayed in Pierneef's mind and continued to provide inspiration to the artist even many years after his initial visit. The present work is a resplendent example of Pierneef retaining his typical subject matter and painting style, while simultaneously injecting the work with fresh experimentation. "'[South West Africa] is a beautiful country,' he always said, 'the desert, the drought, the peculiar translucent quality of the light...This country is individual but interesting to paint.'" In the present work one sees Pierneef utilising shadow to heighten the dramatic effect of the mountains and clouds, adding an element of passing time and movement into the landscape.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: P.G. Nel, J.H. Pierneef: His Life and Work, (Cape Town, 1990), pp. 60-61