Alexis Preller (South African, 1911-1975) Talisman, 1972
Lot 121*
Alexis Preller (South African, 1911-1975) 'Talisman'
£4,000 - 6,000
US$ 6,700 - 10,000
Lot Details
Alexis Preller (South African, 1911-1975)
signed with initials and dated 'A.P. 72' (lower right); bears inscription ' Gift from Alexis Preller- October 1972 a Talisman' (verso)
mixed media
8 x 9.5cm (3 1/8 x 3 3/4in).


    Gifted by the artist to Marlys M. Burdett (née Hanson)
    Private collection

    A letter from the artist, attached to the reverse of the painting, reads:
    "To my dear Marlys, The oyster shell chips were found at Ankara - The lumps of paint on my palette after a hectic session with one painting or another. (The blues – your colour, definitely from the famous Guna Portrait – hence the reason of giving it you, as a Talisman). With Love, Alexis"

    Marlys Burdett (1924-2011) was an American friend of the artist. Her husband William C. (1884-1944), was Deputy Chief of the US Mission in Turkey 1967-1970, where they hosted Preller (hence the use of shell found at Ankara) during his first Aegean trip. This small painting was probably given to Marlys when she visited the artist in Cape Town in October 1972 to support his retrospective at the Art Institute South Africa.

    Guna Massyn (1951-1975) was Preller's life companion. The Guna portrait mentioned in the letter is illustrated in Berman & Nel 2009 (p. 237).

    E. Berman & K. Nel, Alexis Preller, a Visual Biography: Africa, the Sun and Shadows, (Johannesburg, 2009), p. 300

Saleroom notices

  • PROVENANCE: Gifted by the artist to Marlys M. Burdett (née Hanson) Thence by descent to the current owner Marlys Burdett was married to William C. Burdett Jnr. (1918-1995). His father William C. Burdett Snr.'s dates were erroneously listed in the catalogue footnote. When Marlys attended the Preller retrospective in Cape Town in 1972, her husband was U.S. ambassador to Malawi, his final foreign service post before retirement.
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