Lot 82
Indonesian Art Sale | 18 November 2020
Charles Sayers (1901-1943)

'Gracht benedenstad Soerabaia' / A canal in downtown Surabaya

signed 'Ch. Sayers' (lower left)

oil on canvas, 55x70 cm

Charles Eugène Henri Sayers (Gemoeh 1901 - Thambyazajat 1943) was born in the East Indies to a family with a long and deep connection to the country. He did not paint what he saw, but what he felt. His work can be characterised as a personification of the search by Dutch East Indies artists in general: neither completely Western, nor wholly Oriental. Tragically, he died far too young. We will never know the direction his painting may have taken.

In this auction Venduehuis The Hague offers Sayer’s painting titled 'Gracht benedenstad Soerabaia'. A painting with this title is included in the – incomplete - list compiled from works in public and private collections in the publication by Koos van Brakel on p. 140, no. 160 as: ‘Canal in downtown Surabaya (Gracht uit de benedenstad, Soerabaia); c. 1935; oil painting’. In all probability this concerns the same painting.

A quick overview: At the age of eleven, Sayers is sent to the Netherlands to receive a formal education. He attends the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam. He spends some years in Paris, before returning to Indonesia where, from 1932 until 1934, he lives and works in Bali. Sayer’s incentive to return to Java in 1934, was a commission to paint four portraits of the Governors-General. These and other portraits were to earn him a reputation in the East Indies community on Java. He also had frequent occasion to exhibit his paintings. Charles and his family lived in Surabaya for the first few months of 1935. Later that year he made a trip to Japan, and in 1935 they lived in Batavia for a while. ‘Gracht benedenstad Soerabai’ will have been painted in 1935. Sayers opened an exhibition on 24 April 1936 in the Batavia Fine Arts Circle building; apart from portraits he mainly exhibited new works painted in Surabaya and Japan. Again, it is very well possible that ‘Gracht Benedenstad Soerabaia’ was exhibited here. In this period the surface treatment of his painting is rougher and his palette darker, with much black, ultramarine, umber and burnt sienne; this is clearly visible in the painting now in auction.

Source: Koos van Brakel, ‘Charles Sayers 1901-1943, Pioneer painter in the Dutch East Indies’, Amsterdam 2004.

€ 6.000,00
€ 8.000,00
€ 5.000,00

Hamerprijs: € 5.000