Title page for ETD etd-12072011-110708


Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author De Beer, Andre
URN etd-12072011-110708
Document Title Die lewe en werk van die skilder W.H. Coetzer en sy kultuurhistoriese betekenis (Afrikaans)
Degree Master of Arts
Department History of Art
Supervisor
Advisor Name Title
Prof F G E Nilant Supervisor
Keywords
  • skilder
  • W.H. Coetzer
  • kultuurhistoriese betekenis
  • painter
  • cultural-historical significance
Date 1969-11-01
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
The aim of this study is twofold: firstly, to give a general and broad picture of the painter, W.H. Coetzer as a person and as an artist; secondly, to stress the cultural historic importance of his work.

His faithful execution of events in the history of our nation has contributed significantly to the history of South African Art.

He inherited his artistic talent solely from his mother. His youth was a time of hardships. His father died when Coetzer was still young. Notwithstanding his duties in supporting his family he turned his back upon a career of wagon-building and dedicated himself with self-assurance exclusively to the art of painting.

After numerous initial setbacks his work came to the notice of a few prominent Johannesburg art connoisseurs in 1928. Through their active aid Coetzer could study intermittently at schools of art in London between the years 1925 and 1934, where he received a course aimed at thorough academic training.

Returning to South Africa, a period of hardships followed. It was a struggle to have his work accredited. In these years he started feeling it a calling to fulfil a national role as artist. He undertook a thorough study of the history of South Africa and more specifically of the Great Trek. He followed the various routes of the Voortrekkers, making numerous sketches and notes on the way. Con¬sequently, within a few years, he received several commissions from public institutions. To commemorate the historic Trek by wagon (1938) and the inauguration of the Voortrekker Monument (1949), he designed a series of special stamps, dust-covers for publications and various memento's. These brought him acknowledgement as a "national" artist. Coetzer's sketch designs for the historic frieze in the Monument served as the first-indicators and contributed to the unity-existing in the work today.

Apart from commissions for portraits of personalities of national importance, public demand for his landscape and still-life paintings increased rapidly. After his marriage in 1942 he came to own, for the first time, a spacious and well-equipped studio. Coetzer's six most frugal years as creative artist were devoted to the designing of the series of tapestries in the Voortrekker Monument. This creation can perhaps be regarded as the climax of his cultural historic art.

Coetzer's admiration for the Trekker leader, Louis Trigardt, inspired the creation of his last and biggest mural, "For you, South Africa", painted for the T.P.A. Building in Pretoria.

Although known for his works on an historic level, Coetzer is not bound by this theme which required factual rigidity; today he paints according to the inspiration of the moment and for the pleasure it gives him. As a versatile artist adept in handling various media of art, the past forty years have witnessed paintings of divergent nature. His landscapes vary from grandiose, impressive mountain scenes to humble interpretations of Highveld winter lanscapes. It is, however, his Still-life paintings that assert his skill as artist most highly.

Today W.H. Coetzer's paintings are resplendent in many public and private collections and will always testify to the history of his nation and will serve as herald to the beauty of his native land.

AFRIKAANS : Die doelstelling met hierdie studie is tweeledig: Eerstens om ‘n algemene en oorsigtelike beeld van die skilder W.H. Coetzer as mens en kunstenaar te gee; tweedens om sy kultuurhistoriese betekenis te benadruk.

Met sy uitbeelding van gebeurtenisse uit ons volksgeskiedenis, en die histories-korrekte, realistiese weergawe daarvan, het W.H. Coetzer ‘n groot kultuurhistoriese bydrae tot die Suid-Afrikaanse kunsgeskiedenis gelewer.

Hy het sy kunsaanleg uitsluitlik van sy moeder geëerf. Sy jeugjare is gekenmerk deur swaarkry. Sy vader het hulle vroeg ontval. Nie-teenstaande sy verpligtinge om te help met die onderhoud van sy familie, het hy met kenmerkende selfvertroue die wamakery in 1925 laat vaar en hom voltyds op ‘n kunsloopbaan toegelê.

Na herhaalde teleurstellings het sy werk in 1928 onder die aandag van ‘n paar Johannesburgse kunskenners gekom. Deur hulle daadwerklike hulp kon Coetzer, met onderbreking, van 1928 af tot 1934 aan Londense kunsskole studeer. Daar het hy deeglike, akademies-gerigte opleiding ontvang en goed presteer.

Na sy terugkeer in Suid-Afrika volg ‘n periode van stryd om erkenning vir sy kuns. In hierdie jare ontwikkel by Coetzer die drang om as kunstenaar ‘n nasionale roeping te vervul. Hy onderneem ‘n deeglike studie van die Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis, veral die Groot Trek, en maak talle sketse en aantekeninge op sy reise langs die ou Voortrekkerroetes. Binne ‘n paar jaar verwerf hy op hierdie wyse verskeie opdragte van publieke instansies. Vir die Historiese Ossewatrek (1838), en die Inwyding van die Voortrekkermonument (1949), ontwerp hy reekse spesiale posseëls, stofomslae vir publikasies en ‘n verskeidenheid aandenkings. Dit het vir horn erkenning as „volkskilder” meegebring. Coetzer se sketsontwerpe vir die Historiese Fries in die monument het die eerste aanwysing gegee en bygedra tot die eenheid wat vandag in die werk bestaan.

Benewens opdragte vir portrette van nasionale figure het die publieke aanvraag steeds toegeneem vir sy landskap- en stilleweskilderye. Na sy huwelik in 1942 beskik hy vir die eerste keer oor ‘n ruim en goedtoegeruste ateljee.

Aan die ontwerpe vir die Voortrekkermuurtapisserie vir die Voortrekkermonument het Coetzer ses van sy rypste jare as skeppende kunstenaar gewy. Dit kan bestempel word as die hoogtepunt van sy kultuurhistoriese werk.

Coetzer se bewondering vir die Trekkerleier Louis Trigardt het die tema vir sy grootste, en laaste, kultuurhistoriese skildery bepaal, naamlik die muurskildery „Vir jou, Suid-Afrika" vir die Provinsiale-gebou in Pretoria.

Wat betref sy persoonlike kuns is Coetzer nie gebonde aan enige beperkende opdrag wat historiese korrektheid vereis nie; vandag skilder hy volgens eie ingewing en vir sy plesier. As veelsydige kunstenaar wat bedrewe is in die hantering van ‘n verskeidenheid kunsmedia, lewer hy oor die afgelope meer as veertig jaar skilderye van uiteenlopende aard. Sy landskappe wissel van grootse, indrukwekkende bergtonele, tot die weergawe van eenvoudige Hoëveldse winterlandskappe. Dit is egter in sy stillewes wat sy kunstenaarskap in hoë mate bevestig word.

W.H. Coetzer se skilderye pryk vandag in talle publieke- en privaat kunsversamelings en sal altyd die geskiedenis van sy volk verkondig en die skoonheid van sy land besing.

Copyright © 1969, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria

Please cite as follows:

De Beer, A, 1969, Die lewe en werk van die skilder W.H. Coetzer en sy kultuurhistoriese betekenis, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-12072011-110708/>

E11/9/334/hj

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