Harry Stratford Caldecott (South African, 1886-1929) Government Avenue, Cape Town (circa 1926)
Lot 19*
Harry Stratford Caldecott
(South African, 1886-1929)
Government Avenue, Cape Town (circa 1926)
Sold for £86,500 (US$ 115,565) inc. premium

Lot Details
Harry Stratford Caldecott (South African, 1886-1929)
Government Avenue, Cape Town (circa 1926)
bears inscription 'The Avenue, Cape Town/ This is a painting by the man Strat Caldecott authenticated by his son R.Caldecott/ Dec. 1969' (verso); two exhibition labels from the South African National Gallery affixed verso
oil on board
54 x 66cm (21 1/4 x 26in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Purchased by Mr E. Solomon, Klein Vredenburg Gallery, Paarl.
    In the collection of Mrs Elodie Breuning, Johannesburg.
    Purchased in Johannesburg by a private collector.
    Thence by direct descent to present owner.

    Exhibited
    Johannesburg, South African National Gallery. Paris & S.A. Artists, cat.no. 89.
    Johannesburg, South African National Gallery. Strat Caldecott Retrospective, 1986, cat.no. 27.

    Literature
    J. du P. Scholtz, Strat Caldecott, (Cape Town, 1970). Illustrated plate 25.


    Strat Caldecott, recognised as the leading exponent of French Impressionism at the Cape, had been living and working in Paris for more than ten years before he settled in South Africa in 1923. He had absorbed the vision and style of French Impressionism and brought it to bear on the South African landscape like no other local artist. In Government Avenue, Cape Town, Caldecott captures light and movement "with a freshness of vision rarely seen in the South African art of that era" (Alexander & Cohen, p.58). It is arguably the most important example of his work to come on the market in the last decade.

    Soon after Caldecott's arrival in Cape Town, he married the painter Florence Zerffi, then the curator of the Michaelis Collection. Together they lived in her flat in the courtyard of the Michaelis Gallery on Greenmarket Square. He was minutes away from Adderley and St George's Streets where he captured the colourful displays of flags, crowds of people and motor cars during the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1925. He also painted in the nearby Malay Quarter, and around Monument station. He lived close to Government Avenue, the main pedestrian path through the Government Gardens linking Upper Adderley Street with the National Library, the South African National Gallery and the South African Museum.

    The present composition was painted near the Adderley Street entrance and was included in the exhibition Paris and South African artists 1850-1965, organised by the South African National Gallery in 1988. In 150 South African paintings, past and present, Alexander and Cohen praise the deft economy of the painting:

    "(Caldecott) wittily captures the shapes of the clothing and movements of the strolling schoolgirls and couples, and bare, spidery trees in a precinct of Cape Town which has remained largely unchanged and still a favourite lunch-hour haunt of workers and clerks in the central city...This picture provides a fitting companion to several similar works by artists like Monet and Renoir, which show similar dappled settings in wide tree-lined promenades of Paris...

    (He) brought to South Africa a first-hand knowledge and understanding of French Impressionist painting techniques: the broken, rapid, choppy brushstrokes, the use of complementary colours such as the cool violet blues and warm yellows of shade and sunlight as seen here ... More importantly Caldecott applied the Impressionist renderings of transient light effects to the bleaching heat of the South African landscape" (Alexander, Cohen. p.58).

    Many of Caldecott's paintings are not signed and many more are not dated. It is not surprising therefore to find a work of this calibre and scale unsigned and undated. Caldecott's creative output was curtailed by his untimely death at the age of 43. However, he achieved much in his short life, writing extensively on the subjects of art appreciation and education, and architectural and nature conservation. He actively supported the establishment of the Kruger National Park after a meeting with Col. Stevenson-Hamilton, head warden of the then National Game Reserve in 1925.

    Bibliography
    L.Alexander & E.Cohen, 150 South African paintings, past and present, (Cape Town, 1990).
    J. du P.Scholtz, Strat Caldecott, (Cape Town, 1970).
    Alexander, Bedford & Cohen, Paris and South African artists 1850-1965, (Cape Town, 1988).

Saleroom notices

  • Please note: the inscription on the reverse reads "This is a painting by the late Stratford Caldecott authenticated by his son O.Caldecott/ Dec. 1969".
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