In 1942, South African artist Irma Stern visited the Congo in search of inspiration. One canvas that resulted was “Watussi Woman,” an oil depicting Emma Bakayishonga, who was the sister of the Watussi king Mutara III Rudahigwa. Yesterday it sold at Bonhams in London for $1.85m, within its $1.5m-2.4m estimates.
Other canvases by Stern have fetched even more in recent sales. Earlier this year, her “Arab Priest,” realized a record price of $4.8m, and “Bahora Girl” fetched $3.8m in 2010. The next highest lot in the sale, “Young Madeiran man wearing a hat,” was also by Stern. It sold for $577,000.