Bonhams will sell a bronze image of a miner by one of the country's leading sculptors, Anton van Wouw at a sale in London of South African art on October 17. It is estimated to sell for £35,000 to £55,000.
Inevitably the sculpture recalls the harshness of the mining life. Currently 34 miners are being buried in South Africa following the shooting of strikers at the Marikana mine this month, one of the worst such incidents since the end of white rule in 1994.
The work by Anton van Wouw (South African, 1862-1945) 'Hammer worker' is signed 'A. van Wouw' and inscribed 'FONDERIA G NISINI / ROMA'
There are two versions of the Hammer worker: a smaller version (13.5 cm high) and a larger one (60 cm high). The present lot is a cast of the smaller version, with the right foot positioned slightly differently to the larger one.
A possible explanation for having created this smaller version is "because of its [the larger version's] price [which] has always, even during the artist's lifetime, been exceptionally high".
Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art at Bonhams, comments: "Works by van Wouw are increasingly sought after for top prices. And this work, an iconic image of a South African miner at work underground, brings with it something of the energy and horror of deep shaft mining that has produced so much of South Africa's wealth. As such it is a work of art that could represent the country."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com