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Pierneef en sy tydgenote / Pierneef and his contemporaries

JH Pierneef (1886-1957)

Pienk wolke/ Pink clouds, Derdepoort, Transvaal 1924. Olieverf op bord/ Oil on board (23 x 31 cm). Versameling / Collection: La Motte Museum, Franschhoek

Pierneef het, as mens en kunstenaar, persoonlike verhoudings gekoester en was altyd te vinde vir nuwe vriende en kontakte. Hy het die voorreg gehad om as jong seun in Pretoria met president Paul Kruger van die ZAR kontak te hê en veral om die beeldhouer, Anton van Wouw, as peetpa te hê. Daar was ‘n hegte band tussen Pierneef en Van Wouw, deur wie hy ook kennis gemaak het met Frans Oerder, Edward Frankfort en die Ierse kunstenaar, George Smithard, wat almal by sy kunsopleiding betrokke was.

Sy vriendekring onder kunstenaars het wyd gestrek en name ingesluit soos Hugo Naudé, Pieter Wenning, Hans Aschenborn, Edward Roworth, P A (Anton) Hendricks, Ruth Prowse, Erik Mayer, W H Coetzer, Maggie Laubser, Laurika Postma, Gregoire Boonzaier en ‘n jonger geslag waaronder Walter Battiss, Alexis Preller, Jean Welz, David Botha, Bettie Cilliers-Barnard, Eleanor Esmonde-White en Leroux Smith Le Roux. Met die beeldhouers Coert Steynberg en Fanie Eloff, ‘n skoolmaat, het Pierneef hegte vriendskappe gehad.

Pierneef se belangstelling in die argitektuur het hom ook in aanraking gebring met vooraanstaande argitekte soos Gordon Leith, ‘n skoolmaat en ontwerper van die Johannesburgse Stasie. Met Norman Eaton was hy heg bevriend en hy het bande gehad met Gerhard Moerdijk, wat die Voortrekker Monument ontwerp het,  en die argitek-akademikus, Heather Martienssen.

Binne die Afrikaanse Letterkunde het Pierneef noue vriendskapsbande gehad met die dramaturg J F W Grosskopf, vir wie hy dekorstelle, programme en plakkate ontwerp het.  Grosskopf was ook Pierneef se eerste biograaf. Ander met wie hy ook saamgewerk het, is Jan F E Cilliers, J D du Toit (Totius), C Louis Leipoldt, Eugène Marais, E J Mocke, Sangiro, A D Keet, Gustav Preller, C M van den Heever, Jochem van Bruggen, Jan van Melle, A G Visser, Theo Wassenaar, Rikie Postma en veral Toon van den Heever, wat Pierneef in die twintigerjare oorreed het om na Namibië te gaan en by hom in Windhoek tuis te gaan.

Twee families wat die eerste groot versamelaars van Pierneef se werke geword het en met wie hy goed bevriend was, was die Schweickerdts, wat ‘n kunshandelsaak in Pretoria gehad het, en die boekhandelaar en uitgewer, J L van Schaik. Emil Schweickerdt was Pierneef se kunsmateriaalverskaffer en het ook Pierneef se werk geraam. In later jare het die Schweickerdt Galery verskeie solo-uitstallings van Pierneef se werk aangebied.  Daar het ook ‘n vriendskap tussen Pierneef en Van Schaik se seuns, Hans en Jan, ontwikkel.

Ander nabye vriende was Prinses Alice, Reenen van Reenen, wat sy belangstelling in San-tekeninge gedeel het, Thom Steele, Jennie Leach en Dirk en Jeanne Lion-Cachet, met wie hy gereeld gekorrespondeer het. Hy het ook die ondersteuning van adv. Gordon Price en sy vrou, Dora, en dr. Anton Rupert en sy vrou, Huberte, geniet.

Pierneef as man and artist cherished personal relationships and was open to meet new friends and contacts. While living in Pretoria as a youngster he had the privilege of being in contact with President Paul Kruger of the ZAR and had sculptor Anton van Wouw as his godfather. Pierneef and Van Wouw had a close relationship; it was also through this bond that he got to meet Frans Oerder, Edward Frankfort and the Irish artist George Smithard, who all had an influential role in Pierneef’s art education.

His circle of friends with artists was extensive, and included names such as Hugo Naudé, Pieter Wenning, Hans Aschenborn, Edward Roworth, P A (Anton) Hendricks, Ruth Prowse, Erich Mayer, W H Coetzer, Maggie Laubser, Laurika Postma, Gregoire Boonzaier. A younger generation included Walter Battiss, Alexis Preller, Jean Welz, David Botha, Bettie Cilliers-Barnard, Eleanor Esmonde-White and Leroux Smith Le Roux. With sculptors Coert Steynberg and Fanie Eloff, a school friend, Pierneef had very close friendships.

Pierneef’s interest in architecture also brought him into contact with leading architects such as Gordon Leith, a school friend and the designer of the Johannesburg Railway Station. He also had a strong friendship with Norman Eaton and Gerhard Moerdijk, who designed the Voortrekker Monument, as well as architect-academic Heather Martienssen.

In the circles of the Afrikaans Literature, Pierneef had close bonds with the dramatist J F W Grosskopf, for whom he painted décor panels and designed programmes and posters. Grosskopf was Pierneef’s first biographer. Pierneef also worked with Jan F F Cilliers, J D du Toit (Totius), C Louis Leipoldt, Eugène Marais, E J Mocke, Sangiro, A D Keet, Gustav Preller, C M van den Heever, Jochem van Bruggen, Jan van Melle, A G Visser, Theo Wassenaar, Rikie Postma and Toon van den Heever. Pierneef lived with Toon in Windhoek while he was travelling in Namibia during the 1920s.

Two families who were the first major collectors of Pierneef’s work and with whom Pierneef had close friendships were the Schweickerdt’s, who had an art business in Pretoria, and the bookseller and publisher, J L van Schaik. Emil Schweickerdt was Pierneef’s art material supplier and framed Pierneef’s work. In later years, the Schweickerdt Gallery featured various solo exhibitions of Pierneef’s work. A friendship also developed between Pierneef and Van Schaik’s sons, Hans and Jan.

Other close friends with whom Pierneef corresponded on a regular basis were Princess Alice, Reenen van Reenen – who had a shared interest in San rock art — Thom Steele, Jennie Leach and Dirk and Jeanne Lion-Cachet. Pierneef was also supported by Adv Gordon Price and his wife, Dora and, in later years by Dr Anton Rupert and his wife, Huberte. 

Teks / Text: Amanda Botha