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Bust of artist JH Pierneef by Fanie Eloff

Fanie Eloff (1885-1947)

JH Pierneef
1922
Bronze

Eloff het in 1922 ‘n tweede portret van sy goeie vriend, JH Pierneef geskep. Die portret is 4 keer gegiet en word gehuisves in die Ditsong Nasionale Kultuur-Historiese Museum, Johannesburgse Kunsgalery, die Iziko Nasionale Kunsgalery in Kaapstad, asook die Rupert Kunsstigting. Verskeie kunskritici het opgemerk dat sommige detail in die Pierneef borsbeelde se gips weergawes, in die bronsgietproses verlore gegaan het.

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In 1922 Eloff created a second portrait of his friend JH Pierneef (1886 - 1957). This portrait was casted four times and can be found in the collections of the Ditsong National Cultural History Museum, Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Iziko National Art Gallery in Cape Town, and the Rupert Art Foundation. Several art critics mention that the Pierneef bronzes lost the very fine detail in the casting process that was evident on the original plaster.

Eloff was born in Pretoria in 1885. He was the grandson of President Paul Kruger and was surrounded by influential people from a young age. During his school years, he befriended Jacob Hendrik Pierneef with whom he would have a lifelong friendship.

After moving to Switzerland during the Anglo Boer War, Eloff returned to complete his schooling in South Africa. He resided with Dr HG Breyer who introduced him to classical music, fine art and especially sculpture. Anton Van Wouw was a frequent visitor to the Breyer’s residence.

Eloff furthered his studies in Paris where he started to pursue a career in sculpture. After receiving acclaim in a competition, Eloff was financially supported by his family which enabled him to create freely without commercialising his art. In 1912 he was admitted to the prestigious Union Internationale des Beaux-Arts et des Lettres and recognized as a modern French sculptor. At the end of 1912 he travelled back to South Africa on Pierneef’s invitation to participate in the Individualist Group exhibition.

Eloff returned to South Africa in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I, where he continued to sculpt historical figures. In 1922 he went back to Paris where he established a studio and became part of the Paris social scene. While on holiday in South Africa in 1929, Eloff and Pierneef held a joint exhibition at the Jewish Guild Hall in Johannesburg. During this time, he became the art editor of a new magazine, Die Nuwe Brandwag. With the invasion of Paris in 1940 during the Second World War, Eloff fled to South Africa. He rekindled his friendship with Pierneef and they held another joint exhibition in 1941 at Elangeni, Pierneef’s home and studio outside of Pretoria.

In 1945 the South African Academy of Science & Art awarded Eloff with the medal of Honour for Art.


Source: De Kamper, G & De Klerk, C. 2011. Sculptured. The complete works of Fanie Eloff. University of Pretoria: Department of UP Arts.

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