An Alexis Preller painting sold for just five pounds in 1936 goes on auction by Stephan Welz & Company in Johannesburg this month with an estimated price of R500 000 to R700 000, reflecting the recent upsurge of interest in his work.

“Prices for Preller works have risen steeply, and he has become a sought-after, sound investment, much in the same way as the work of Pierneef and Maggie Laubser,” says Stephan Welz & Company art specialist Luke Crossley.

He notes that a portrait by Prel- ler (1911–1975) was sold on auction last year for R2.2 million, about 10 times more than its price estimate. Part of the reason for the new- found enthusiasm for his work, was publication in 2009 of A Visual Biography: Alexis Preller, Africa, The Sun and Shadows by Esmé Ber- man and Karel Nel.

“This gave collectors an appre- ciation of the depth and scope of his work and made people sit up and take notice,” says Crossley.

The Preller work on auction by Stephan Welz & Company on July 25 and 26 at its new premises – Kil- larney Country Club, 60 5th Street, Houghton Estate, Johannesburg – is an intimate portrait of his mother, Olivia Maria Preller, who fully supported him in his choice to pursue a career in the arts. The oil on canvas painting was sold for five pounds at his first exhibition in South Africa, held in Glen’s Mu- sic Salon, Pretoria, in 1936.

Women are also the subjects in two other notable works on auction, and they feature Malay women from Cape Town.

Belgium-born Maurice Charles Louis van Essche (1906-1977) set- tled in Cape Town in 1940 at the age of 34 and dedicated his art to an in- terpretation of African people and landscapes, basing his work on the premise that “painting is an inti- mate dialogue between the painter and life”. His approach is exempli- fied in the work on auction, titled Portrait, with an estimated price of R250 000 to R350 000.

Contemporary artist Lionel Smit has already established a sub- stantial international following, and his oil on canvas, Malay Wom- an, is on offer with an estimated price of R300 000 to R400 000.

Amsterdam-born Pieter Wil- lem Frederick Wenning (1873- 1921) spent much of his working life in Cape Town, excelling at depicting calm landscapes and floral still lives with delicate at- mospheric qualities. His skill is typified by his Still Life With Flow- ers which is being offered at an estimated price of R150 000 to R250 000.

Notable items in the Decora- tive Arts session of the auction are being offered at estimated prices ranging from R65 000 to R150 000. A standout lot is an art nouveau massive electroplate champagne cooler by WMF (Wür embergis- che Metallwarenfabrik) dated to about 1900.


The work of renowned silver- smiths features in the silverware session of the Stephan Welz & Co. auction, with a standout lot being an early Victorian silver two-han- dled soup tureen by Paul Storr dated 1838 and with an estimated price of R400 000 to R600 000.

Based in London, Storr (1771 – 1844) was one of the finest 19th century silversmiths, with works ranging from simple tableware to magnificent sculptural pieces made for royalty.

The work of the sought-a er Pa- risian silversmith, Henri Lappar- ra, who founded his firm in 1893, is exemplified in an art deco French silver and Macassar wood tea and coffee set which is on auction with an estimated price of R70 000 to R90 000.

A pair of silver five-light Co- rinthian column candelabra on auction are based on a classical, architectural style originally pop- ularised in the Stuart era and in particular during the time of King George III.

Made in the early 1900s, the lot is being auctioned with an estimat- ed price of R90 000 to R120 000. Also on auction in this price range is a late 19th century set of German silver “King’s” pa ern cutlery.


A standout lot in the furniture session is an early 20th century parquetry and mother-of-pearl and ebony inlaid coffee table by Ju- les Leleu (1883 to 1961) who is con- sidered one of the fathers of French art deco design.

Measuring 46cm high, 86cm wide and 45cm deep, the item goes on auction with an estimated price of R100 000 to R120 000.

For more information

visit or contact 011-880-3125 or e-mail stephanwelz@stephan-


When and where:

The Stephan Welz & Co. auction is being held on July 25 and 26 at the company’s new premises, the Kil- larney Country Club, 60 5th Street, Houghton Estate, Johannesburg.
Viewing takes place from July 20 to 23 between 10am and 5pm.