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English and Cape Country furniture on sale for decorative art enthusiasts and collectors

Strauss & Co’s eagerly awaited March Online-Only Auction is currently online, and decorative art enthusiasts and collectors will be enchanted by the specialist emphasis on English and Cape Country furniture.

Strauss & Co’s eagerly awaited March Online-Only Auction is currently online, and decorative art enthusiasts and collectors will be enchanted by the specialist emphasis on English and Cape Country furniture. There are some fine examples from the Georgian era currently on offer, notably a George III mahogany chest of drawers (estimate R12 000 – 15 000) and a fall-front secretaire bookcase (estimate R20 000 – 30 000).

Attention should also be drawn to a panelled oak cupboard (estimate R10 000 – 15 000) and two mule chests (estimates R5 000 – 7 000 and R6 000 – 8 000) from the Channel Islands, making a rare appearance on the South African market.

Also on offer are some quality Cape pieces, including a variety of yellowwood, stinkwood and fruitwood cupboards, dressers, tables and chairs.

After the VOC (Dutch East India company) set up a refreshment station to supply Dutch ships on their way to the East in the 17th century, the Cape Colony became one of the most diverse societies in the world. The enlarging elite demanded luxury goods, which included furniture. Cape Furniture is the result of a melting pot of influences from all over the world – craftsmen guilds from the Netherlands and slaves from Batavia, who brought their own set of aesthetic skills. The furniture makers were also beguiled by the Cape’s wide variety of timber to ply their trade, which led to a decorative aesthetic unique to this type of furniture hailing from this region.

 

Avid Cape Country furniture collector Dr. Bothma Buitendag, whose collection Strauss & Co handled in 2013, explains that Cape Furniture had the advantage of good craftsmen who came from Europe. These craftsmen brought excellent design skills, honed at the guilds of Europe with them, along with their superior technical skills. Even today Cape country furniture is a stalwart in contemporary interior design – its classic lines and excellent craftsmanship ensures that it can fit seamlessly into a contemporary, minimalistic look, or be repurposed as statement pieces in a more bohemian, eclectic home.  Buitendag’s view is that Cape furniture is more of a traditional cultural yardstick and that South Africa, because of its colonial past, is more diverse than some of the other ‘New World’ countries, like America, Canada and Australia. Craftsmen used local timbers and a distinctive Cape style developed out of necessity.

From a selection of Cape furniture, formerly the property of Justice Minister Lourens Muller and his wife Sally, of ‘Rabroy’, Robertson, is a yellow and stinkwood cupboard (R 30 000 – 40 000) made up with some earlier elements. The piece features canted corners above a pair of panelled doors and sides, enhanced with ebonised reeded moulding and enclosing two shelves.

Another interesting piece is a 19th century painted Cape yellowwood and kist, with hinged moulded two-plank top, the front painted with a spray of flowers enclosed by stylised sprays against a green ground. The interior of the top, papered with fashion plates and inscribed “Sannie” comes from famed ceramist Hylton Nel’s collection and is a worthy statement piece, with a rich indigenous heritage.

The Online-Only Auction is currently live and closes at 6 pm on Monday 14 March 2022. Visit www.straussart.co.za to bid or register.

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