Maria Magdalena (Maggie) Laubser
Oil on Canvas laid down on Board
44 x 49cm
"M.L." (in initial) (Lower/Left)
Circa: 1924 - 1932
Provenance: Prof. A. Neethling-Pohl, Pretoria
Acquired directly from the artist in the thirties
Thence by decent
Exhibitions: Macfadyen Hall, Pretoria, 1931, Cat # 21
Maggie Laubser, A Retrospective Exhibition, Pretoria Art Museum
Literature: Botha, 1964, p 76—77 & p 79, Cat # 125
Miles, Historia, 1965, p 196
Notes: Related subject matter, sketch book 8:21
RAU Neg. 1190
Illustrated: Marais, D.1994. Maggie Laubser, Her Paintings, Drawings and Graphics. Perskor Press, Johannesburg & Cape Town. Page 199, Cat. No. 617
Maggie Laubser is well known as one of South Africa's most prominent masters.
Her studies in Berlin from1922 until 1924 saw her seeking the guidance of German expressionists such as Karl Schmidt Rotluff, Erich Heckel and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Although the German expressionists had an undeniable influence on the impasto, hurried style of her work, Laubser continued to paint subject matter that remained truet o her South African roots.
In the seminal work, The Story of South African Painting, Esme Berman identifies Maggie Laubser as indispensable to the development of South African art. In particular, she discusses Laubser’s“devout love of nature— her feeling for the land, her humanistic vision of the humble life of peasants and fisherfolk, her joy in simple innocent images of geese and gulls.”
Throughout Laubser’s oeuvre, from her still lives and magnificent landscapes and particularly her body of portraits, Laubser remains almost cosmologically in tune with the fluctuations of nature and the psyche of her sitters. However, while this suggests a certain continuity to the artist’s works, it does not undermine the significant development that her work underwent.
In “Landscape with Cows, Geese, Woman Carrying Baby and Container" the viewer is confronted with both Laubser's intimate knowledge of the South African landscape, as well as with its people. Capturing the rhythmic motion of the landscape, with cows, geese and woman in tune with one another, Laubser also succeeds in communicating a brooding sense of angst that hovers in the background. An aster sky creeps forth from the far right of the frame, as if threatening to blanket the peaceful pastoral scene.
As opposed to molten rays lightening the middle ground, the citrus yellow container on the woman's head is the only source of sun. As the eye drifts downwards to the shrimp coloured material from which a small brown baby's head peeksout, the viewer is almost concerned for the safety of mother and child as they wander back towards the small one door house at the top of the path. The cows, their backs dabbed with duckling yellow, however seem unperturbed by the storm ahead, gentle harmony of their bent heads, in motion with the swirl of the geese balances the composition, bringing quiet to the foreground.
That Laubser can communicate such a diverse range of feeling and movement in this one work is a truetestament to her capability as not only an artist, but a storyteller too. The work is remarkable in that, unlike in many of her other paintings, she is penetrating further than the psyche of her sitter. Laubser has painted a scene that narrates the mood of the South African landscape, and its inhabitants.