Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff (South African, 1913-2006)
Portrait of Lenka (Red Jacket) oil on canvas 102.5 x 87cm (40 3/8 x 34 1/4in).
PROVENANCE: The Tretchikoff Estate
LITERATURE: Richard Buncher, Tretchikoff, (London, 1950), plate 22 Andrew Lamprecht, Tretchikoff: The people's painter, (Johannesburg & Cape Town, 2011), a photograph of the artist with the present lot, p.105
Lenka, from her real name Leonora Moltema, was Tretchikoff's muse for the two and a half years he spent in Java during the Second World War. He had been separated from his wife and daughter when the war broke out. Towards the end of the war, he got word through the Red Cross that they were in South Africa and he left Java to find them. As Yvonne du Toit records, "When [Tretchikoff] was reunited with Natalie [his wife] after the war, he told her of his relationship with Lenka and offered her, as a personal gift, any of the works he had made during his Javanese period. She chose the portrait of Lenka and hung it above the dining room table". (du Toit, 2011, p.105)
The present lot expresses the East/West duality omnipresent in Tretchikoff's work. According to Buncher, "This picture is symbolical of the fusion of the Eastern and Western cultures as well as ways of life. In this picture the Kriss [A Malayan dagger with a wavy double-edged blade] represents the Eastern traditions, and the tailored tunic the modes of the West, both of which have been assimilated by this half-caste [sic], who is a woman of culture and intelligence". (Buncher, 1950, p.5)
Tretchikoff found in Lenka the perfect muse. Bright and attractive, she was also Eurasian - from a European father and a Malay mother - and embodied the very fusion of East and West the artist was so keen on evoking.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Richard Buncher, Tretchikoff, (London, 1950), p. 5 Andrew Lamprecht, Tretchikoff: The people's painter, (Johannesburg & Cape Town, 2011), p. 63 Yvonne du Toit, 'Lenka, Tretchikoff's muse: a personal reminiscence', in Tretchikoff: The people's painter, (Johannesburg & Cape Town, 2011), pp.90-103
signed and inscribed 'V. TRETCHIKOFF / JAVA' (lower left)