Maggie Laubser

There was a special relationship between the painter and printmaker Maggie Laubser (1886-1973) and Stellenbosch University (SU).

This relationship started in the 1950s and ended with her death about two decades later. Laubser’s involvement with the SU bloomed because of the efforts of the late Prof HB Thom, who, from 1954-1969 was a rector of this university.

Laubser, who was strongly influenced by German Expressionism, bequeathed approximately 140 works to SU and in 1989/90 these works were fully restored.

Only a selection is exhibited in the SU Museum in the building that was formerly the Bloemhof Meisieskool where she received her secondary school education.

Along with about 30 works which the University acquired elsewhere before and after 1973, this large number of oils, watercolours and drawings is one of the most extensive collections of works by a single prominent South African artist in public possession. It includes about forty works which Laubser created during her early years as an artist when she spent time in the Netherlands (1913-14), England (1914-19), Belgium (1919), Italy (1920-21) and Germany (1922-24).

Although only a limited number of works is on exhibition, the viewer will nonetheless gain insight into the artist’s oeuvre and her charming, humble and self-expressive artistic awareness.

She was always extremely conscious of nature and her view of herself in comparison is summarised in her own words in the catalogue, Maggie Laubser Retrospective Exhibition, (South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 3.07-2.09.1969):
Nature is so large and overwhelming that my greatest efforts make me look puny in comparison.