Published: September 21, 2017
HATFIELD, PENN. – Alderfer Auction will feature a work by South African artist Irma Stern at its September 28 fine and decorative arts sale. Irma Stern (1894-1966) was born to German Jewish parents in South Africa, but spent much of her youth in Germany, where she also studied art. A versatile artist, she worked in oils, watercolor, gouache, charcoal, ceramics and sculpture. She eventually became a leading member of the German Expressionist painters and had her first exhibition in Berlin in 1919.
According to Karen Murray of National Appraisal Consultants, Stern has achieved both national and international acclaim and remains one of South Africa’s most important artists. Auction sales of her work have reached millions, with the most recent record set at Bonham’s in March, 2011, with the sale of “Arab Priest” for $4,944,064. “Seated Nude with Oranges” from the same sale brought $2,761,140. On September 13, Bonham’s sold Stern’s “Zanzibar Street Scene” for $67,691. New records are expected in the coming months as several important works will be offered at auction.
Several years ago, Murray said, an astonishing discovery was made in a London flat by a Bonham’s art specialist there on a valuation assignment. “Arab in Black,” painted by Stern in 1939, was hanging with its exotic carved wood frame in the kitchen being used at a message board. Needless to say, the owners were shocked and immediately found another place for messages. The interesting thing about this piece is that it was part of a charity auction in the late 1950s to help fund Nelson Mandela’s legal defense. This painting sold at Bonham’s in 2015 for $1,140,605.
Alderfer Auction will feature a still-life by Stern titled “Daisies” ($20/30,000) as what promises to be a highlight of the sale’s fine art selection. The simulcast sale will take place live at the auction center at 501 Fairgrounds Road, on September 28 at noon, as well as online. For more information, 215-393-3000 or www.alderferauction.com.
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