Volschenk, Jan Ernst Abraham (1853 – 1936)
Jan Ernst Abraham Volschenk
Jan Volschenk was born of Dutch parentage on the farm ‘Melkhoutskraal’. James Reitz, the Government
Land Surveyor, observed him drawing on the farm and mentioned it to his brother Gysbert, who then
persuaded his parents to send him to school in Riversdale. He later joined the firm of Reitz & Versfeld
as a bookkeeper. He did however continue painting in his spare time. In 1879 he wrote to SAFAA,to
enquire about exhibiting in Cape Town, whereby he submitted 4 works.
In 1893 he joined the Reitz family on a trip to Europe and after being stimulated by his visits to the
various art galleries, on his return in 1894 he joined the SA Drawing Club and exhibited with them. At
the age of 51 he finally gave up his profession as an accountant and turned all his attention to his art.
He concentrated most of his work on the surrounding landscape in the area where he lived, the aloes
and Langeberg mountain range. While there are various works depicting surrounding farms, it is the
views of the veld across the aloes and the pink Cape heath towards the rocky Langeberg peaks that most
people remember his works by most.
Jan Volschenk is regarded by many as being the father of South African Art.
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