Laubser, Maggie (1886 – 1973)
For more than half her life, Maggie Laubser, was misunderstood by both public and art critics, but late in her life
she became one of South Africa’s best loved artists. Maggie (Maria Magdalena) Laubser was born on a farm in
the Malmesbury district in the Western Cape. Poor, with no employment prospects, she became a governess in
Ermelo in the Transvaal (now Mpumalanga). There, she met the ex-consul for The Netherlands who noted her
precocious painting talents and persuaded her to travel abroad with his family.
From 1913 to 1924 she travelled and studied in Holland, London, Belgium, Italy and Germany. On her return, she
retreated to the fishing villages of the Western Cape, living at Strand for 30 years until her death in her house she
named “Altyd Lig”
While in Germany her art was encouraged by the artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Precise, academic, realistic painting
was not for her. The simplified forms, dark outlines, brooding faces, blazing or gloomy colours of the German
Expressionists lit her palette. Like Irma Stern who she knew, she brought colour, if not light effects, to the
rendering of the South African landscape and its people.
Maggie Laubser was a deeply religious person. She believed that the earth and all life in it are parts of a
harmonious whole under a benevolent creator.
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