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date: 25 January 2020

Wenning, Pieter ( Willem Frederick )locked

(b The Hague, Sept 9, 1873; d Pretoria, Jan 24, 1921).
  • Esmé Berman

Extract

( Willem Frederick )

(b The Hague, Sept 9, 1873; d Pretoria, Jan 24, 1921).

South African painter and printmaker of Dutch birth. He was a self-taught artist and left Holland in 1905 to take up employment in the Pretoria branch of a Dutch bookselling firm. He painted and etched landscapes and still-lifes during weekends only until 1916, when a group of patrons made it possible for him to spend three months painting full-time in Cape Town. He found the misty winter climate of the Cape peninsula, being closer to the atmosphere of his homeland than the harsh, sunlit expanses of the Transvaal, suited to his temperament and style. During that and later visits he produced enough saleable work to repay his benefactors and to continue painting full-time. Unfortunately his practice of working incessantly outdoors, regardless of inclement weather, also undermined the fragile health that had originally driven him from Holland.

Although Wenning revelled in the wooded landscapes of the Cape, he eschewed the picture-postcard sentimentality typical of the work of most of his contemporaries. His formats are small, but the flat colour planes and decorative, rhythmical contours—both especially pronounced in his still-life studies—are brisk and confident, as in ...

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E. Berman: Art and Artists of South Africa (Cape Town, 1970, rev. Halfway House, 1993)