Bonhams to auction The Herb Seller by Vladimir Tretchikoff

The ‘Herb Seller’ by Vladimir Tretchikoff (1913-2006), a Russian émigré to South Africa, will be sold by Bonhams on March 20th in London. Painted in 1949, it is estimated to sell for £80,000 to £120,000.

At one time the painting was owned by Jan Haak, minister of Economic Affairs in the late 1960s and then by R. F. “Pik” Botha, South Africa’s ambassador to the USA in 1975 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1977.

The painting is particularly significant as the first work by Tretchikoff to be shown in the South African National Gallery, when it was included in the exhibition 1910-2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective, a survey of a century of South African art. The work is also seen as particularly significant for its socio-political resonances, which seldom surface in Tretchikoff’s oeuvre. As Andrew Lamprecht elaborates, “The painting depicts a well-known ‘character’ in Cape Town, disenfranchised because of South Africa’s race policies, which were expanding to devastating effect soon after Tretchikoff arrived in his adopted land. Behind the direct gaze of the main figure are the torn posters of two political rivals: Smuts of the ‘liberal’ United Party and Malan of the apartheid-initiating National Party.”

PICTURE PROVENANCE: Mrs A.S. East, Cape Town; Jan F. W. Haak, Minister of Economic Affairs, 1967-1970; R. F. ‘Pik’ Botha, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1977-1994; Minster of Mineral and Energy Affairs, 1994-1996; Mr B.H. Cohen; A private trust