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Pierneef en die Uniegebou / Pierneef and the Union Buildings

JH Pierneef (1886-1957)

Uniegebou / Union Buildings, Pretoria, 1922. Gemengde media/ Mix media (15.5 x 22.5 cm). Versameling / Collection: La Motte Museum, Franschhoek

Uniegeboue vanaf Prinsenhof

Linosnee / Linocut. 28 x 36.2 cm. La Motte Ontvangs / Reception. Versameling / Collection: La Motte Wynlandgoed / Wine Estate

Uniegeboue en doringboom

Linosnee / Linocut. 14.9 x 22.1 cm. Pierneef a La Motte Restaurant. Versameling / Collection: La Motte Wynlandgoed / Wine Estate


Linosnee / Linocut. 7.8 x 12.4 cm. La Motte Kantore / Offices. Versameling / Collection: La Motte Wynlandgoed / Wine Estate

The erection of the Union Buildings, an important landmark in Pretoria, took place on the Meintjeskop hill between 1910 and 1913. The subject of Meintjeskop feature in more than 70 known works by Pierneef between 1905 and 1948.

This hill had special significance to Pierneef as he went on field trips with his natural science teacher Dr Beyers exploring various elements of nature from plants to rocks. This is also the hill that Pierneef explored with mentor Frans Oerder, the so called Donkey Camp was situated on this hill and Pierneef’s earliest drawings under the mentorship of Oerder had this as subject.

Other artist friends such as Pieter Wenning and Erich Mayer would sit on the slopes of Meintjeskop and sketch Pretoria (then a small town with veld stretched all around). From Pierneef’s house in De Waal street he also looked out onto the hill with the Apies River in the foreground. His first painting that were sold and bought by Emil Schweickerdt in 1910 was one of the 70 artworks with this hill as focus.

With the various excursions and nostalgia attached to Meintjeskop the erection of of the Union Buildings on this hill laid heavy on Pierneef’s heart. For Pierneef the Union Buildings was a symbol of British Imperialism in South Africa, and this he also did not favour.

Due to the conflicting view of the happenings on Meintjeskop Pierneef was so emotionally attached that he made various sketches, drawings and paintings during the construction period.

Collections of works with Donkey Camp, Union Buildings and Meitjeskop:

University of Pretoria, Pretoria Art Museum, Museum Africa – Johannesburg



Duffey, A. 2010. JH Pierneef and the Union Buildings. De Arte no. 82.