South African master celebrated at La Motte

Private Property South Africa
Molly Fitz-Patrick

The museum at La Motte in Franschhoek has opened an exhibition to celebrate the life and work of Jacob Hendrik Pierneef

I’d heard of JH Pierneef and was vaguely familiar with his style before I had heard about this exhibition. However, I still feel that I was sadly and embarrassingly underexposed to an artist considered one of South Africa’s old masters. I jumped at the opportunity to attend the opening, and I’m so glad that I did.

La Motte Tree AvenueLa Motte's stunning Tree Avenue

La Motte, the stunning and revered wine estate in Franschhoek launched the exhibition, A Tribute to the life and work of Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957), at its museum on 18 January. La Motte’s relationship with Pierneef dates back a few years; in early 2002 the estate created the Pierneef Wine Collection. The year 2017 has particular significance to Pierneef as it’s the 60th anniversary of the artist’s death and the 90th birthday of his daughter, Marita.

The exhibition consists of more than 100 Pierneef artworks – paintings, sketches, linocuts, illustrations and more – meticulously sourced from private and public collections to complement La Motte’s already impressive collection. Typical Pierneef works, particularly landscapes, are accompanied by more unusual, lesser-known pieces. There are many artworks he completed while travelling around Europe and Southern Africa, some of which have hardly been, if ever, seen by the public. Some of Pierneef’s tools and equipment, as well as personal memorabilia, such as a letter to his then very young daughter, Marita, have also been included.

An inside look at the memorabilia and artworks of the JH Pierneef MuseumAn inside look at the memorabilia and artworks of the JH Pierneef Museum

The exhibition has been brilliantly curated; you’re able to follow the development of Pierneef’s skills and style as he gets older, travels the country, the continent and the world. His exposure to new art forms is evident in the corresponding changes to his style at different times. A personal highlight of the exhibition was the quirky sketch he did of Place Du Tertre in Montmartre in 1925, which is so remarkably different from the style he’s known for.

Many of the artworks have QR codes that the viewer can scan to learn more about the particular piece or about a certain event in Pierneef’s life. There is also a detailed timeline in Afrikaans and English that gives the viewer insight into the key aspects and periods the exhibition has chosen to highlight – the man, the artist, the heritage.

The exhibition runs for the whole year, and presents the perfect opportunity to visit the superb wine estate, eat at the wonderful restaurant (Pierneef à La Motte) and sample La Motte’s exceptional wines.

Pierneef a La MottePierneef a La Motte Restaurant

Experience for yourself:

  • La Motte | 021 876 8000 | la-motte.com

This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.

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