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ARTFIX DAILY, September 7, 2011--
Irma Stern, one of the few female Expressionist painters to reach worldwide fame with 100 solo shows and a museum in her name, was a master at capturing the haunting facial features of General Governor Pierre Ryckman in this portrait of him that was painted in the Belgian Congo in 1946.
Considered one of the most important 20th century painters to come out of South Africa, Irma Stern (1894-1966) was raised in the Transvaal and was fortunate enough to meet Expressionist painter Max Pechstein from whom she learned key techniques that are marvelously illustrated in this portrait of Governor Ryckman. Max Pechstein was one of the most prolific artists in German Expressionism in the early 1900's who was inspired by the colorful paintings of Van Gogh, Matisse and other Fauves artists.
Using a dramatic palette as well as painterly strokes, Stern captures the eloquent yet stormy eyes of Governor Ryckman against an angular face with shadows and crevices. Using her instinctive artistic skills, her strokes allude to the ravages inherent in leading a troubled colony during one of the most uproarious times in history. This exceptional painting, Portrait of Pierre Ryckman, is a prime example of this seamless blend of painterly passion and personal reflection.
Before taking the civil servant position as Governor, Ryckman had fulfilled years of active duty in Africa, most of it in the Belgian Congo in the early 1900's. After a brief return to Belgium, where he lectured about the role of Belgium in Africa, Ryckman was appointed to the position of Governor in 1934. He passed a number of regulations, via the Brussels Minister, that improved life and business in the Belgian Congo.
Governor Ryckman's tenure in the Belgian Congo from 1934 to 1946, was filled with success and tumult as he transformed the region with imperial reforms between the Belgian kingdom and the Congolese.
Irma Stern's works have been shown in 100 solo shows around the world. In 1971, the Irma Stern Museum was inaugurated in Cape Town. Several of her works, when they are come on the market, fetch up to $4 million.
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