A wax pastel crayon sketch of Nelson Mandela’s cell door on Robben Island is set to be auctioned this week as part of an African modern and contemporary art collection.
The sketch, which is signed ‘NMandela’, is being auctioned by Bonhams in New York City on Thursday (2 May) and has an estimated value of $60,000 – $90,000 (R860,000 – R1,300,000).
Mandela began a series of sketches on the subject of Robben Island in early 2002. He painted under the watchful eye of his art teacher Varenka Paschke, who aided with the basic composition of the sketches and method of the colour applications.
Around twenty-two sketches were completed that included images he found meaningful, both symbolically and emotionally, during the period of his incarceration on the island.
“When my father retired as the president, he didn’t have much to do,” said Mandela’s daughter, Makaziwe Mandela who inherited the sketch.
“I think for him, art was a good way of expressing himself or trying to come to terms with his history and his (I wouldn’t want to say) demons but just coming to terms with his whole life.”
Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island cell No 5 has been visited by presidents, prime ministers and VIPs from across the globe including President Obama (2013) and President Clinton (1998).
It has become a place of pilgrimage for those who wish to trace the footsteps of a man who dedicated his life to freedom.