Arab in Black by South Africa’s leading artist, Irma Stern, is to be sold at Bonhams sale of South African Art in London on 9 September. It is estimated to sell for £700,000 to £1m (R20m). This powerful image from Stern’s highly regarded Zanzibar period, is not only one of the artist’s finest works, it also has a fascinating past ¬- from its important role in the political history of South Africa to its recent fate as a notice board in a modest London apartment. In the early 1960s, Arab in Black was put up for auction to raise money for the defence of Nelson Mandela and his co-defendants in South Africa’s Treason Trial. Mandela had been arrested in 1955 on a charge of high treason which carried the death penalty. The Treason Trial Defence Fund was set up to raise money for legal fees and to support the defendants’ families. Irma Stern herself donated a work to the cause. The trial ran from 1956 until March

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