The Dagga Smoker by Anton van Wouw
The Dagga Smoker by Anton van Wouw The Dagga Smoker by Anton van Wouw The Dagga Smoker by Anton van Wouw The Dagga Smoker by Anton van Wouw The Dagga Smoker by Anton van Wouw The Dagga Smoker by Anton van Wouw
The Dagga Smoker by Anton van Wouw

The Dagga Smoker by Anton van Wouw

  • This outstanding bronze is by Dutch-born South African sculptor Anton van Wouw
  • This highly detail sculpture captures a Kalahari Bushman in the midst of collecting water
  • Van Wouw is considered the father of South African sculpture for his large and small works
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Item No. 29-6033
Anton van Wouw
1862-1945 • South African

The Dagga-Smoker

Bronze, dark brown patina
Signed “A. VAN Wouw, S.A. - Joh.burg”

Dutch-born sculptor Anton van Wouw is widely regarded as the father of South African sculpture. In this outstanding bronze figure entitled the Dagga Smoker, he gracefully captures a Kalahari bushman smoking dagga, a form of cannabis sativa, and drinking water from a blown-out ostrich egg. Having lived in the Kalahari for 20,000 years as hunter-gatherers, the bushmen typically use these hollow ostrich eggs as water containers. One of van Wouw’s best works, this figure exemplifies his stunning attention to detail and composition.

Born in Driebergen, Holland in 1862, van Wouw was educated at the Rotterdam Academy of Art. He originally concentrated on sketching and drawing, but later moved towards modeling. He studied under Vieillevoye at the Academy, and later in the studio of the sculptor Joseph Graven. Van Wouw moved to Pretoria at the age of 28. It was some time before van Wouw gained commissions in South Africa, where there were few opportunities for sculptors at the time. He was eventually commissioned to carry out a monument of President Kruger, which today stands at Church Square in Pretoria. This helped establish his reputation among the Afrikaner establishment, and following the Boer War, he was commissioned to create the National Women’s Memorial in Bloemfontein and a frieze for Pretoria’s main post office.

Van Wouw subsequently began receiving numerous requests for work, and he moved to Johannesburg in 1906 in order to carry out commissions for the mining world – mostly depicting life on the mines. He also completed a number of architectural works; carving sculptures or making decorative plaster works to adorn buildings such as the Volksraad, the Standard Bank Building and the Cullinan Building in Pretoria. In 1907, Van Wouw established the African Art Union and its magazine African Art Journal.

Although he produced a number of drawings and paintings during his early years, it is his sculpture that defines his career and marks his influence on the history of the South African sculptural tradition. Along with the larger monuments, his smaller works of South Africa’s indigenous tribesmen truly exhibit his eye for textures, emotion, facial expressions, and overall composition. Some of his most celebrated pieces are his sensitive depictions of the tribesman's way of life, exemplified by the evocative Dagga-smoker and The Skapu Player.

Van Wouw was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria in 1936, and a Medal of Honour for sculpture by the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns in 1937.

7 1/8” high x 20 1/4” wide
Artist: van Wouw, Anton
Period: 1919-Present
Depth:7.125 Inches
Length:20 1/4 Inches
Width:20.25 Inches
Height:7.125 Inches
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