Exclusive Namibian art under hammer

The work of two of early Namibia's most prolific painters, Adolph Jentsch and Fritz Krampe, will go under the hammer next week in Cape Town.

12 October 2018 | Art and Entertainment

Important Namibian paintings from the late Peter and Regina Strack Collection are poised to go under the hammer in South Africa

Strauss & Co, South Africa's leading auction house, is honoured to present 20 works in various media from the Namibian-based collection of the late Peter and Regina Strack. The sale, which includes three rare Adolph Jentsch oils and a major Fritz Krampe oil, will be offered in a dedicated segment at the auction house's forthcoming sale in Cape Town on 15 October.

German-born Peter Strack immigrated to Namibia in 1950 and was a partner in the architectural firm Stauch & Partners. He began honing his skills as an artist and collector under the tutelage of painter Adolph Jentsch. The collection he assembled with his wife, Regina, is striking for its focus on earlier 20th-century Namibian artists such as Jentsch and Krampe, as well as Axel Eriksson and Carl Ossmann.

Dresden-born Jentsch, who moved to Namibia in 1938, is a key figure in the art history of his adopted country. His masterful landscapes are imbued with a spiritual calm. Jentsch's work has been a fixture of South African auctions. In November 2017, Strauss & Co sold an oil on canvas from 1940 painted near the Swakop River for R1.6 million.

Collectors esteem Jentsch's oils, in part due to their rarity. In 1975, a disastrous fire at a farm owned by Gebhard and Dorothee von Funcke, where the artist stored many of his prized works, destroyed much of his output, which the artist only reluctantly traded.

The Strack Collection includes three oils, one of them, Schafrevier (estimate R500 000 – R700 000), was bequeathed by Dorothee von Funcke to the Stracks. Painted in Jentsch's muted colour palette, the work depicts the Schaf River near Windhoek.

“This serene work highlights the importance of quality and provenance as the cornerstone of building a successful collection,” says Kirsty Colledge, a senior art specialist at Strauss & Co who handled the consignment of the Strack Collection.

The other oil works on offer are Vlei on Farm Teufelsbach (estimate R600 000 – R800 000), an unusually verdant view of the Otjihavera River, and Ibenstein, SW Afrika (estimate R600 000 – R700 000), a masterfully achieved night scene in grey that was purchased from the artist's estate by Peter Strack in 1983.

The Strack Collection consignment also includes a Jentsch acrylic titled Schafrivier Ufer (estimate R200 000 – R300 000) that was exhibited at the South African National Gallery, Cape Town, in 1969. Arid Landscape with Trees (estimate R5 000 – R7 000) is one of four watercolours on offer and was gifted to the Stracks by Dorothee von Funcke.

The Fritz Krampe offerings are no less auspicious and include one of this Berlin-born artist's major works, a double-sided oil on canvas from 1958, Village Scene with Woman smoking Pipe/ Fishing Boat (estimate R250 000 – R350 000). This work is a deviation from Krampe's usual animal studies and depicts an East African village and its occupants.

Krampe's Cattle Frieze from 1959 (R200 000 – R300 000) is a preliminary study for the artist's acclaimed ten-metre long Otjitambi Frieze. The frieze and preliminary works are extensively discussed in Timeless Encounters, a 2007 book on Krampe authored by Peter Strack. In 2003 Strack also published a book on Jentsch.

Peter Strack's work as an artist is also acknowledged in the Strauss & Co sale, which features two undated sculptural pieces made with palm wood. The Strack Collection offering further includes pieces by South African artists, notably Alexis Preller's Pondo Girl (estimate R80 000 – R120 000), an early charcoal drawing from 1938.

The Strack Collection offers an opportunity to reflect on the kinship between Namibian and South African landscape painters. In 1923, South African J.H. Pierneef visited Namibia, then a protectorate of its southern neighbour. Pierneef exhibited in Windhoek and met with local artists like Axel Eriksson, whose Kleine Spitzkoppe from 1921 (estimate R30 000 – R40 000) shares many affinities with his South African contemporary's rapturous mountain studies.

The sale of the Strack Collection (lots 514 to 533) takes place on Monday 15 October at 19:00, in the evening sale at the Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town.



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