Painting of Omani man sells for $1.38 million

Simply titled 'Arab', Stern painted the work in 1945, drawing on her trips to Zanzibar as inspiration

Irma Stern
Arab
signed and dated 1945
oil on canvas, in the original Zanzibar frame
63 by 52,5cm excluding frame; 76,5 by 65cm including frame

R 12 000 000 - 16 000 000. Courtesy Strauss & Co

A painting of an Omani man by famed South African artist Irma Stern has fetched $1.38 million (Dh5 million) at auction.

Stern is arguably South Africa's most celebrated artist, and achieved international recognition before she died in 1966. However, the pinnacle of her fame came posthumously, as her paintings have continued to break records at auction in recent years.

The Oman embassy in Cape Town announced the sale in a tweet.

Simply titled Arab, Stern painted the work in 1945, drawing on her trips to Zanzibar in 1939 and 1945 as inspiration.

“The painting dates back to the reign of Sultan Khalifa bin Harib bin Thwaini Al-Said,” the embassy said.

The oil on canvas work is a colourful portrait of an Omani man dressed in traditional garments.

The auction was held on March 18.

Stern's paintings generally fall under the hammer for top dollar. In 2010, one of her works, Gladioli, sold for an all-time high (for both the artist and for South Africa) of R13.3 million (Dh3.4 million), but that record was smashed later that month with the sale of Bahora Girl for R26.7 million (Dh6.9 million). But both these sales were dwarfed by Arab Priest, which sold for £3 million (Dh14.5 million) in March 2011 at Bonham's, London.

Here's the painting in full in the original Zanzibar frame: 

Irma Stern
Arab
signed and dated 1945
oil on canvas, in the original Zanzibar frame
63 by 52,5cm excluding frame; 76,5 by 65cm including frame

R 12 000 000 - 16 000 000. Courtesy Strauss & Co