Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff (South African, 1913-2006) 2 portraits of Lenkaand 1 self portrait
Lot 45*
Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff (South African, 1913-2006) Self-portrait and two portraits of Lenka 53 x 44cm (20 7/8 x 17 5/16in); 49.5 x 40.5cm (19 1/2 x 15 15/16in); 79 x 54 cm (31 1/8 x 21 1/4in)
Sold for £20,000 (US$ 34,013) inc. premium
Lot Details
Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff (South African, 1913-2006)
Self-portrait and two portraits of Lenka
self-portrait signed, dated and inscribed 'To Lenka / for 2 1/2 unforgettable / years / Tretchi / 22-11-45 / JAVA' (lower right) and second portrait of Lenka signed 'TRETCHIKOFF' (lower right)
sanguine chalk on paper
53 x 44cm (20 7/8 x 17 5/16in); 49.5 x 40.5cm (19 1/2 x 15 15/16in); 79 x 54 cm (31 1/8 x 21 1/4in)
(3)

Footnotes

  • During World War II, Tretchikoff was evacuated from Singapore but captured by the Japanese when his life raft reached Java. After three months in solitary confinement, he was released on the proviso that he was an artist, and spent the last three years of the war confined to Djakarta. Tretchikoff began to undertake portrait commissions, and one day a Eurasian woman, Leonara Moltema – called Lenka – walked into his studio: "I can still smell her perfume," the artist recounted, "She wore Shalimar. She always dressed like a Paris model and had coal-black eyes and shoulder-length hair. She was stunning."

    From muse to lover, Lenka would become a central character in Tretchikoff's life story and artistic legacy, though the two parted ways in 1945. The current lot, with all the softness and subtlety that the pastel medium allows, includes the first portrait he ever made of her, a later nude, and the self-portrait he gifted to her on their parting, fondly inscribed "To Lenka for 2 ½ unforgettable years..." These poignant portraits are very likely the earliest extant works by the artist.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY:
    Y. Du Toit, 'Lenka, Tretchikoff's muse: a personal reminiscence', in Tretchikoff: The people's painter, (Johannesburg & Cape Town, 2011), pp.90-103, p.92
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