Louis Trichardt signed 'Pierneef' (lower left) oil on canvas 41 x 56.5cm (16 1/8 x 22 1/4in).
LITERATURE: N. J. Coetzee, JH Pierneef: The Station Panels, exhibition catalogue (Stellenbosch, 2010), a similar work illustrated pg.5 P.G. Nel, J.H. Pierneef: His life and work, (Cape Town, 1990), a similar work illustrated pg.147 J.F.W. Grosskopf, Hendrik Pierneef, (Pretoria, 1947), a similar work illustrated fig.70
A harmonious Transvaal scene which unfolds around the Dutch Reformed Church of Louis Trichardt (designed by Gerhard Moerdelijk in 1926), the current lot is closely related to one of the key compositions from the famous Johannesburg Station Panels. The Station Panels, which depict diverse South African landscapes, were part of a large public commission which Pierneef completed between 1929 and 1932 to adorn the new Johannesburg Station (for which Moerdelijk, incidentally, was an associate architect). As a major nexus for local and international travel, the Station was a prime arena for showcasing the best in South African art and natural environments. The Station Panels are seen as among Pierneef's most accomplished works: they required numerous preliminary studies which would, in turn, offer a wealth of source material for additional paintings and linocuts.
N.J. Coetzee remarks of the related Station Panel that "In Louis Trichardt, Pierneef closely followed the instructions on composition from Van Konijnenburg: the whole composition revolved around the church spire, which was the exact centre of the scene". The Dutch printmaker, painter and draughtsman Willem Van Konijnenburg believed that beauty was borne of harmony, and that such harmony could be achieved by representing the natural order through mathematical laws. Pierneef's working drawing for the panel (illustrated in Nel, p.15) the border enclosing a perfect mathematical circle traversed by diagonals which intersect at the tip of the spire closely reflects Van Konijnenburg's teachings.
Although the current lot is not in the square format required of many of the Station Panels, it similarly reflects a naturalistic scene which has been carefully composed according to Pierneef's sense of pictorial order. The picture planes are arranged into pleasing, but not rigid, delineations of foreground, middleground and background, with the upward rhythms of trees and spire adding a vertical counterbalance to the horizontal elements. Small shrubs in the foreground give way to a diagonal thrust which leads the eye into the painting, only to have it captured by the small church which becomes the painting's focal point. As a whole, the painting is pervaded by a sense of peace and quiet monumentality. A very similar work to the current lot, with minor differences, also appears in another private collection.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: N. J. Coetzee, JH Pierneef: The Station Panels, exhibition catalogue, (Stellenbosch, 2010), p.25 G. Nel, J.H. Pierneef: His life and work, (Cape Town, 1990) J.F.W. Grosskopf, Hendrik Pierneef, (Pretoria, 1947)