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Last night’s successful sale has contributed greatly to auction house Strauss & Co.’s bumper year

Irma Stern, White Lilies, oil on canvas, 67.5 x 64.5cm
JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 2, 2010 ­— Two weeks short of the second anniversary
of auction house Strauss & Co.’s Sunday launch in November 2008, at a house
on Rose Road, Houghton, the company founded by Elizabeth Bradley, Conrad
Strauss, Stephan Welz and Mary Jane Darroll has comfortably shifted into fifth gear. Cruise mode.

Last night, at an auction held at the Johannesburg
Country Club, Strauss & Co achieved over R66 million in sales, the highest single
auction total of the year for any South African art anywhere in the world. Colour
drenched still lifes by Irma Stern and Maude Sumner were especially sought

Three weeks after dealer Louis Schachat acquired Stern’s
work Gladioli for R13.4-million at Strauss & Co.’s Cape Town auction,
briefly setting a new world record for the artist, Stern again appealed to

White Lillies, a work dating to the 1930s, doubled its
high estimate, selling for R11.1-million, while another Stern floral still
life, Lilies, painted in 1944, achieved well over its top estimate of
R5-million, selling for R8.4-million.
Maud Frances Eyston Sumner, Nature Morte, oil on canvas, 50 x 60cm
Maud Sumner, a Johannesburg-born painter who is quoted by
Esme Berman as saying, “I am South African and English, but as a painter I am
French”, was the big surprise of the evening. An accomplished colourist,
Sumner’s lightly-cubist composition Nature Morte (1950) attracted keen bidding,
selling for R2.5-million, trouncing the top estimate of R400,000.

Works by JH Pierneef also numbered amongst the top offerings,
a cheerful if uninspiring landscape study, Baobab Tree, achieving R7.6-million, just north
of the high estimate.

Last night’s successful sale has contributed greatly to Strauss &
Co.’s bumper year, turnover for the year exceeding R184 million. Recession?
What recession!

Download Strauss & Co.’s guide to the auction highlights and prices achieved (0.8 MB).

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