On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X
VAN EEDEN, Jeanne. Collecting South African art in the 1930s: The role of Martin du Toit. Historia [online]. 2008, vol.53, n.1, pp.82-101. ISSN 2309-8392.
The first head of the Department of Afrikaans Art and Culture at the University of Pretoria in the 1930s was Professor Martin du Toit, a well-known figure in Afrikaner cultural circles. His vision for the new department included the ideal of exposing students to the work of South African artists. He believed passionately in the future of the arts in South Africa and was enthusiastic in establishing them in the so-called "North", particularly in Pretoria. Martin du Toit was involved in many cultural bodies and activities and instituted regular art exhibitions under the auspices of the Department of Afrikaans Art and Culture in the Macfadyen Memorial Hall in Pretoria. These exhibitions focused on contemporary South African artists and brought the work of groundbreaking painters such as Irma Stern and Maggie Laubser to the attention of the public. Du Toit also wanted to build up a representative collection of Afrikaner material culture and visual art at the university. This article examines this endeavour, contextualises it in relation to aspects of public art collecting in South Africa during the 1930s, and shows how Du Toit laid the foundation for the current art collection of the University of Pretoria.
Keywords : Afrikaner; Anton Hendriks; art collecting; Department of Afrikaans Art and Culture; Johannesburg Art Gallery; Macfadyen Memorial Hall; Martin du Toit; modernism; national art; nationalism; Pretoria; South African art; University of Pretoria.