Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (South African, 1918-2013) The Cell Door, Robben Island

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Lot 9
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
(South African, 1918-2013)
The Cell Door, Robben Island

Sold for US$ 112,575 inc. premium
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (South African, 1918-2013)
The Cell Door, Robben Island
signed 'NMandela' (lower right)
wax pastel crayon
59.4 x 42cm (23 3/8 x 16 9/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The collection of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013);
    By direct descent to the current owner, Dr. Pumla Makaziwe Mandela.

    On 16th June 1999 Nelson Mandela retired as President of South Africa. What is less well known is that following his retirement he began a new career as a talented artist.

    "When my father retired as the president, he didn't have much to do. I think for him, art was a good way of expressing himself or trying to come to terms with his history and his (I wouldn't want to say) demons but just coming to terms with his whole life."
    Makaziwe Mandela.

    Mandela began a series of sketches on the subject of Robben Island in early 2002. He painted under the watchful eye of his art teacher Varenka Paschke, who aided with the basic composition of the sketches and method of the colour applications. Around twenty-two sketches were completed that included images he found meaningful, both symbolically and emotionally, during the period of his incarceration on the island.

    Ten of these original drawings were then reproduced as editions of lithographs 'My Robben Island' in 2002 and 'Reflections of Robben Island' in 2003. The above drawing of his cell door on Robben Island was produced at this time but was not used for the edition of lithographs, it remained in the collection of the Mandela family.


    "Today when I look at Robben Island I see it as a celebration of the struggle and a symbol of the finest qualities of the human spirit, rather than as a monument to the brutal tyranny and oppression of apartheid.
    Robben Island is a place where courage endured in the face of endless hardship, a place where people kept on believing, when it seemed their dreams were hopeless and a place where wisdom and determination overcame fear and human frailty.
    It is true that Robben Island was once a place of darkness, but out of that darkness has come a wonderful brightness, a light so powerful that it could not be hidden behind prison walls, held back by prison bars or hemmed in by the surrounding sea.
    In the sketches entitled: My Robben Island, I have attempted to colour the island sketches in ways that reflect the positive light in which I view it. This is what I would like to share with people around the world and, hopefully, also project the idea that even the most fantastic dreams can be achieved if we are prepared to endure life's challenges."

    Nelson Mandela, June 2002

    Nelson Mandela's Robben Island cell No 5 has been visited by presidents, prime ministers and VIPs from across the globe including President Obama (2013) and President Clinton (1998). It has become a place of pilgrimage for those who wish to trace the footsteps of a man who dedicated his life to freedom.
Contacts
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (South African, 1918-2013) The Cell Door, Robben Island
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (South African, 1918-2013) The Cell Door, Robben Island
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (South African, 1918-2013) The Cell Door, Robben Island
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