15 Sep 2019
August 17, 2015 - Filed under: Auctions — David

A valuable painting by a famous artist from South Africa was recently discovered hanging on a kitchen wall, being used as a notice board.

The painting, ‘Arab in Black’ by Irma Stern, is oil on canvas and was painted in 1939. Stern is a well known and respected artist in South Africa and work by her has been soaring in value recently. The painting was recognised during a valuation visit to the present owner’s flat in the UK, by a South African art specialist from Bonhams, Hannah O’Leary. The work of art was covered in postcards, bills and letters.

The home of Stern in Cape Town is now a museum. A similar painting was discovered in 2011 and sold for a record breaking £3.1m. The art specialist has valued Arab in Black in the region of £1m. The painting was bought at auction during the 1950s, before being brought to the UK by the owners, who then passed it down to the current owner. The painting had originally been sold to raise funds for the defence fund for Nelson Mandela, who was eventually freed from jail in 1990.

The frame of the art work is also valuable and rare, made from the timber of antique door cases from Zanzibar, the export of which is now banned. Stern used the frames from the Tanzanian archipelago for her best pieces, having worked there during the 1930s and ’40s. The painting will be auctioned on 9th September. If purchased by a private collector, the painting would complement fine antique bedroom furniture in a home.

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