Danie de Jager sculpture - product photographer pretoria gauteng

Greatest South African artists

Greatest South African artists: Irma Stern and Danie de Jager

The next Bernardi Auctioneers auction is coming up this weekend. As official photographer for them, I had the previlige to photograph the work of two of the greatest South African artists: Irma Stern and Danie de Jager.

They are seen as two of the most important and experienced artist that ever lived in South Africa.

Irma Stern

Irma Stern
Irma Stern – most important artists to be produced by South Africa

Stern was born in 1894 in Schweizer-Reneke, Transvaal. She studied in Weimar and Berlin. Her inaugural exhibition was in Berlin in 1919.

On her return to South Africa, equipped with influences from German expressionism, she had her first exhibition. Her work was dismissed as “immoral”. Irma Stern became subject to police investigation.

Although she is well known for her oil paintings, she has also worked as a sculptor. Her portrayal of African people gave her white counterparts insight into the African ways of life.

Prix d’Honneur

Irma Stern etch
Irma Stern etch of seated woman

Irma won the Prix d’Honneur in 1927 at the Bordeaux International exhibition. In 1929 she became the sole selector for the South African entry to the Imperial Institute Exhibition in London.

Peggy Guggenheim international art prize

In 1960 She also won the Peggy Guggenheim international art prize in 1960, followed by the Oppenheimer award on “Art in South Africa” in 1963.

This great artist was also awarded a medal of honour for her paintings by the Suid-Afrikanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns in 1965.

She died in 1966, while plans were being made to exhibit her work at the Grosvenor Gallery in London. The exhibition was mounted post-humously in 1967.

One of the most important artists

Irma was one of the most important artists to be produced by South Africa. Her work can be seen in major South African embassies throughout Europe.

Her house in Rosebank (Cape Town) has been turned into the Irma Stern Museum.

Danie de Jager

Danie de Jager sculptor
Danie de Jager amongst the most experienced sculptors in the world

Born in 1936 near the city of Johannesburg, he grew up in the African bushveld where his love for animals first started.

Johannesburg Technical College Art School


He completed a 3-year art course at the Johannesburg Technical College Art School. At 24 commenced a career as fulltime sculptor.


Danie won his first important competition for a sculpture of a monument that year followed by winning awards in several other competitions.


In his career, he completed more than one hundred and twenty larger than life bronze sculptures.

Working in realistic and abstract themes he ranks amongst the 
most experienced sculptors in the world.