David Botha

David Botha

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David Botha (1921-1995)


David Johannes Botha (1921-1995) is one of the old masters in South African art. He is considered to be a realism-impressionist in the genre of the Cape Impressionism painters such as Terence MaCaw, Hugo Naude and Spilhaus.


His wet street scenes, with white-washed houses and dark leafless oak trees and black linings, are amongst his most sought after works. He usually painted on site, many times in the rain with his water boots and umbrella. He managed to capture landscapes and the atmosphere of typical Boland towns, mostly in Paarl and Stellenbosch.


He found inspiration in the vineyards, trees and flowers as well as architecture of Boland towns. Subject matter ranged from landscapes, seascapes and still life compositions. His vineyards were in the vicinity of Paarl and Stellenbosch and one can clearly recognize the familiar mountainous landscapes done in perfect relation to the reality.


He admired Pierneef’s work and also produced a large number of lino- and woodcuts on paper. His woodcuts demonstrate a high degree of artistic competency. His woodcuts are all smaller in size than his linocuts but with more detail and overall artistic proficiency. The illustrated wets street scene of Milner street Paarl one can clearly see his technical expertise in carving. The woodblock done in 1963 is still in the possession of his widow Jane Botha. Wet street scenes being his trademark thus brings to life also his best woodcut, seldom see for sale and tightly held by collectors.


He was also very fond of Arniston and as the artists of the era, did many watercolors oils and also this remarkable woodcut of Arniston in 1953. He also created two linocuts both larger in size of the same subject which is always a favorite of collectors.


His still life’s is remarkably strong in colors and his favorite piece being pomegranates with some kitchen utensils on a table cloth. This work shows influences of Cezanne and cubism. The scene is minimalised by even brushstrokes and without straight lines. Compositional the work is based on thirds.


Botha did his training as an art teacher at the Cape Town Teachers Training College as well as the Camberwell School of Art in London and extended his art education by traveling abroad to Paris, Rome and Madrid. He was employed as an art teacher at four high schools in Paarl from 1946 until 1979 Initially he settled on a small farm, Kleinplaas just outside Paarl, but later moved into town, where he lived until he died in 1995 at the age of 73.


His work is highly sought by collectors and the KWV head quarters in Paarl holds a large collection of his best work. They even brought out a calendar in 1987 featuring 12 of his works. He is also represented in the Hester Rupert Art Museum in Graaff-Reinet, The National Museums in Bloemfontein; Pretoria Art Museum, Rand Afrikaans University, SA Cultural History Museum, Cape Town, SA National Gallery, Cape Town, University of Stellenbosch and the Willem Annandale Art Gallery, Lichtenburg. A wet street scene oil painting of David Botha fetched a record price of R265 000- in September 2008 at an auction house in Pretoria. Thus truly an artist one can invest in.