This oil on panel of locals in a Cape Town street tells an amusing episode in the life of Sir Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956).
It was in 1891 that Brangwyn was invited by a London art dealer to visit a foreign country of his choosing and produce work for an exhibition upon his return. The artist selected South Africa and chose to travel with the artist, writer, and poet William Hunt. The two men sailed for Cape Town in late summer with £250 to take them as far as they could go. They hoped it would last a year.
Riding by cart, Brangwyn and Hunt travelled inland from Cape Town to the diamond fields of Kimberley but after just five months the money ran out. No extra funding was forthcoming from London so the men returned to Britain and went into hiding to avoid meeting their sponsor who believed them to still be working in Africa. Although infuriated by the trickery when Brangwyn’s real whereabouts was revealed, the dealer mounted an exhibition at the Japanese Gallery on Bond Street in March 1892 and – mercifully for all concerned – it was a critical and commercial success. The 42 x 31cm painting titled Buitengracht St, Cape Town and dated 1891 carries an estimate of £2000-3000 at Lawrences of Crewkerne as part of the summer fine art sale on July 12-15.