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Pierneef ‘s European Break

J.H Pierneef was a well-known South African artist by the time the 1920s rolled around. As a young artist he spend time in the Netherlands after which he returned to his homeland. Post-Boer War he held a number of exhibitions which thrust him into the spotlight of the local art scene.

JH Pierneef Painting After a failed at a first attempts as an art lecturer he decided to pursue a full-time career as an artist. The time that followed was not what one would expect, in fact this was a very difficult time in the artist’s life. Mrs Pierneef suffered from a mental disorder and became increasingly dependent on her husband for support. In reaction he worked even harder – holding country wide exhibitions, touring South Africa and offering the odd lecture..

He held exhibitions in Pretoria, Cape Town Stellenbosch during the early 1920s, at times having about 300 works on display. His first two years as a professional artist was very successful. Jacobus Pierneef was now receiving deserved recognition for his work and finally felt like he was developing a truly South African brand of art.

Pierneef made a second trip to Europe midway through the 1920s, one which some critics say defined his art career. The first part characterised by his individual style and the second known as a time in which he reached maturity and saw the culmination of a multitude of influences. During his second “European break” he promoted his work and dedicated much of his time to studying the latest art movements. Interestingly his exhibition of bushmen painting drew much interest from the Dutch audience.

Towards the end of the 1920s he was again a very busy man; his career was flourishing, he held another large exhibition in Pretoria and he became a father.