By Talita Swarts
Every year early September when the Namaqualand Daisies make their appearance after the winter rains, I think of the Impressionist painter Pieter Hugo Naudé. I can imagine him driving his custom-built Caravan (Traylor) all over the countryside looking for the perfect landscape to paint that will capture the colourful carpet of wild spring flowers found along the Westcoast and in Namaqualand.
To really appreciate Naudé’s paintings you must know about his Caravan. It was custom built on a Ford Chassis and according to Adéle Naudé (1974:17) had “an external cupboard for tea-making equipment, tank of water, etc. In the Caravan itself long seats doubled up as sleeping bunks.” On his painting expeditions he would drove off in search of the perfect landscape to paint which he did on the spot fully geared to stay for as long as needed to capture what he set out to find.
When I was researching these painting expeditions, I was amused by the fact that there were more written about his accidents than his plein air painting. After a few close encounters driving himself, he appointed Gawie Cupido who doubled up as his gardener when back home. Rumer has it that it was also Gawie that ended up choosing the spots that needed to be painted.
These expeditions were not for painting alone. It was also an important mission to collect seeds of South Africa’s indigenous flora. Naude was a pioneer in their cultivation at the Cape, which lead to him being commissioned to create The Garden of Remembrance on Church Square in Worchester (Naudé 1974:18). When visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town don’t miss the spring flowers from the West Coast gifted to us by Naudé’s collected seeds.
Naude’s small paintings as explained by Adéle (Naudé 1974:17) “captured spontaneously and retained the radiance of that huge Namaqualand scene.”
Hugo Naudé was was born and raised in the Boland town of Worcester. He is considered one of South Africa’s pioneer impressionist painters. He received his professional art education at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, the Kunst Akademie in Munich and spent a year amongst the Barbizon painters in Fontainebleau near Paris. He helped establish “Cape Impressionism,” an adaptation of European Impressionism, in conjunction with the artists Pieter Wenning, Nita Spilhaus, Ruth Prowse and Strat Caldecott.
Naudé, Adéle. 1974. Hugo Naudé. Cape Town: Struik (PTY) LTD
Johans Borman Fine Art. 2018. Hugo Naudé (1909 – 2005). [O].
Available: http:// http://www.johansborman.co.za/artist-biographies/naude-hugo/Accesed: 2020/11/24