Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966) The Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice
Lot 60*
Irma Stern
(South African, 1894-1966)
The Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice
£400,000 - 600,000
US$ 650,000 - 970,000

Lot Details
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
The Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice
signed and dated 'Irma Stern 1948' (lower left)
oil on canvas
70.5 x 90.5cm (27 3/4 x 35 5/8in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Sale, Stephan Welz & Co., Cape Town, 17 October 2000, lot 547.
    A private collection.

    Before the Second World War and her trips to Zanzibar and the Congo, Stern had worked and lived in Europe, including four months in Italy in 1937; her final trip before war broke out. Her dealer tried to convince her to hold an exhibition there, but the forebodings of war excluded the possibility. "Shall have one a bit later – when I can breathe again and need the feeling of a European connection." It would be a decade before that connection was to return. After the end of the Second World War in 1945, Stern was prepared to exhibit there again, in Paris, London, Rotterdam and Brussels in 1947 alone.

    Marion Arnold writes, as with "Turner and Monet before her, Venice enchanted Stern, and the city built on water motivated some light drenched and luminous paintings."

    The present work depicts a view of the Grand Canal with the domes Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute on the left bank. The domes appear to hover above the surrounding buildings, as if emancipated from their foundations.

    The depiction of water is characteristic of Stern's work; the illusion of depth and reflection are created by alternating areas of impasto and scraped canvas. Although clearly drawn to the exoticism of Venice, at this point in her career Stern was also on the look out for new artistic source material. Stern had become disillusioned with her primitive 'African' subjects, as she revealed in her interview with the Cape Argus in 1953:

    "Now I no longer feel at ease around Primitive people. On my painting tour in the Transkei a few months ago I found things had changed since my earlier visits- perhaps the change lay in the Natives, perhaps in myself. But the old ease of communication has gone...Manifestations of religions as I saw them in countries of Southern Europe have set me many problems to work out at my easel."

    Bibliography
    M. Arnold, Irma Stern: A Feast for the Eye, Stellenbosch, 1995, p. 70- 77.
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  1. Elizabeth Callinicos
    Specialist - South African Art
    Bonhams
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