In our Art Online auction on Friday 18 August, we are pleased to offer a collection of fourteen works by internationally renowned South African sculptor and painter Stella Shawzin. Here Picture specialist Francesca Whitham tells us more about Stella Shawzin's life and art.
Born in the Transvaal, South Africa in 1920, Shawzin trained originally as an actor, singer and dancer and continued to partake in plays and films whilst residing in England during the 1940s. It was during this time that Shawzin began having lessons with eminent German colourist Martin Bloch, an artist living in exile in England due to persecution he experienced at the hands of the Nazis. Bloch encouraged her to work as an artist instead of a performer.
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Lot 4: Stella Shawzin ‘Boats docked by the shore’ oil on canvas laid to board | Est. £300-500 (+ fees)
In the 1950s Shawzin moved to New York, to study at the New York Art Students League, where she was taught by George Bridgman, Frank DuMond and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. After her time at the Art Students League, she enrolled at the Pratt Institute Workshop for Artists, where Shawzin improved her knowledge of graphic techniques.
Lot 3: Stella Shawzin ‘Cattle grazing in the woodland’ oil on canvas laid to board | Est. £100-150 (+ fees)
Despite her wide-ranging training in many media, Shawzin decided to work almost exclusively as a sculptor. She established her own foundry in Constantia, Cape Town to cast her bronzes. All her marble sculptures were carved in the studio of Carlo Nicoli in Carrara, Italy. Carrara marble is renowned for its durability and purity, making it ideal for sculpture and building. Shawzin was a successful and widely recognised figure in her own lifetime, and was widely exhibited across the globe, with shows in London, Paris, New York, and Bologna, as well as shows closer to home in Johannesburg and Cape Town. These early works show her early experimentation with media.
Lot 2: Stella Shawzin ‘Street scene with figures’ mixed media on canvas laid to board | Est. £200-400 (+ fees)
The viewer is transported to South Africa through Shawzin’s beautiful harbour landscapes which show traditional boats docked with the majestic mountains beyond. The vibrant blues are highlighted with white creating depth across the board.
Lot 1: Stella Shawzin ‘Boats in the harbour with mountains beyond’ oil on canvas laid to board | Est. £400-600 (+ fees)
Included in this collection of works is a series of rural landscapes showing farmers at work. These paired back simple designs are depicted using a monochromatic colour palette. Shawzin has chosen earthy browns, beiges, and creams to build up layers of paint illustrating figures completing everyday tasks in rural South Africa. Lot 12 is titled Basutoland Dusk. Basutoland gained its independence on 4 October 1966 and was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho. This area is made up of a large proportion of land which is mountainous and uninhabitable. Nonetheless, this dramatic landscape sets as a striking backdrop for Shawzin’s work.
Lot 12: Stella Shawzin ‘Basutoland dusk’ oil on canvas laid to board | est. £100-150 (+ fees)
Bidding is available in person at our salerooms, online, by telephone or you can leave commission (absentee) bids.
Friday 18 August | 10.30am BST
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 2JE
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