Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (South African
Lot 353*
Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (South African, 1886-1957) Kransberg, Rustenburg, Transvaal
Sold for £361,250 (US$ 607,196) inc. premium
Lot Details
Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (South African, 1886-1957)
Kransberg, Rustenburg, Transvaal
signed and dated 'J.H. Pierneef 1955' (lower left); inscribed 'Kransberg, Rustenburg, Tvl' and further signed 'J.H. Pierneef, Pretoria' (verso)
oil on canvas
66 x 87cm (26 x 34 1/4in).


    Acquired directly from the artist by the Geological Survey for presentation to director Dr L.T. Nel on his retirement.
    Thence by descent by the current owner

    Pierneef chose to paint the Kransberg mountain for its particularly geological subject matter, which he felt was appropriate for this commission.

    "Far deeper...than the professional delight of the painter's eye in colour, form and line of the landscape, there lies hidden in Pierneef that filial feeling, that adoration of our ground; it is the secret flame that gives to his ripest works their intrinsic eloquence." (Grosskopf 1947, p.23)

    The influence of the Mont Sainte-Victoire paintings by Cézanne (1839-1906), painted towards the end of the nineteenth century, is evident here. Like the French artist, Pierneef uses the trees in the foreground as a framing device. This is emphasised in the swirling clouds which echo the curvature of the tree tops. Similar to Cézanne's mountain, Pierneef paints a huge rock formation in the centre of the work and it is this feature to which our eyes are first drawn, subtly guided by the acacia trees.

    Pierneef's fascination with order and symmetry, a passion which came about in the 1920s after the artist was introduced to Willem van Konijnenburg, an artist and writer on the laws of Parallelism, can also be observed in the present lot. The artist couples the horizontal lines of the grassland and the vertical lines of the rock, together with the diagonal arrangement of the trees in order to demonstrate the beauty of nature's architecture.

    Of his 1950s landscapes Anton Hendriks wrote, "Pierneef painted Africa. His landscapes were different from anything seen in paint before. Baines, Oerder and others had painted the same scenes, but Pierneef saw them with new eyes. He created a new style out of this new subject matter." (Ibid. p.101)

    Pierneef used the same composition in a smaller pencil work dated 1943 (private collection).

    J.F.W. Grosskopf, Hendrik Pierneef, The Man and his Work, (Pretoria, 1947)
    P.G. Nel, Pierneef, (Johannesburg, 1990)
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