2021 Hermanus FynArts opened with a focus on Russia. Presenting via a live link from Moscow, Boris Gorelik, reminded that one connection between Russia and Hermanus dates to the 1950s. According to Gorelik, who authored the biography Incredible Tretchikoff (Tafelberg, 2013) the Russian born self-taught artist Vladimir Tretchikoff joined his family in South Africa in 1946 and holidayed in Hermanus at least twice in the 50s. During these coastal vacations they stayed at the McGrath Collection’s The Marine Hotel. The hotel management asked Tretchikoff to design a cover for the Marine’s Christmas menu and he produced artwork unlike his typical style. Photographs of these menu covers show watercolour botanical drawings, probably as seen in Fernkloof Nature Reserve which is in walking proximity to the hotel. These paintings were of proteas, restio, disa and what looks like the small blue iris (blou uitjie). Each page was signed with the artist’s initials and inscribed with the title.
The auctioneer’s description from latest sale were as follows:
Menus decorated by Vladimir Tretchikoff (1950-51) sold on 30 March 2009 by Bernardi Auctioneers, Pretoria, for R35,000 and R40,000 respectively.
The owner’s parents holidayed at the hotel during December 1950 and 1951 over the Christmas period. Tretchikoff and his family were there at the same time, and the manager of the hotel asked the artist to decorate the covers of the menus for the Christmas Day lunches of 1950 and 1951.
What I wouldn’t do to lay my hands on these precious Hermanus memorabilia?