Pearse Collection

Pearse Collection


Geoffrey Eastcott Pearse [16:02:1885 -01:04:1968 ]

Drawings of eighteenth century architecture and furniture from the Pearse Collection were made by his students whom he took on a field trip down to the Cape in the late 1920’s for the purposes of recording extant Cape Dutch buildings as well as pieces of the furnishings of the period which would have graced these homesteads. The measured drawings were redraughted by a select group of gifted students. They became known as the ‘Transvaal Group’, a term coined in French by the master, Le Corbusier. The published versions are ‘ clean’ versions of the originals. In 1933, the year that their Professor, Geoffrey Pearse, published his monograph on an historical subject, the ‘Transvaal Group’ published their manifesto ‘zero hour’, deliberately written in lower case sans serif in the style of the Bauhaus, in celebration of the Modern, the title deliberately chosen to show their resolve in breaking ties with the past. They were later to make their mark as early South Africa moderns. The third edition of ‘Eighteenth Century Architecture’ (1963) was published by Balkema, the publishing house of the Dutch-born immigrant, Guus Balkema (1906-1986), who established himself at the Cape after the Second World War. When Balkema ceased publishing, the drawings were found amongst the paraphernalia left in his publishing house. Gawie Fagan, at the time engaged in the restoration of Cape Dutch homesteads, was offered these, which he gratefully accepted. He has preserved them over the years. He forwarded them to the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria on loan for purposes of digitizing for the archive collection before making a donation of them to the State Archives in Cape Town. They were shown at the Cape of Good Hope Castle and are presently on loan to the South African Institute of Architects for exhibition in Johannesburg and then Pretoria in 2006.

The drawings for the companion volume ‘Eighteenth Century Furniture at the Cape’, only published in the 1960s by Van Schaik’s of Pretoria are in the possession of Mira Fassler-Kamstra, daughter of John Fassler. He, as a young architectural student, was Pearse’s draughtsperson of choice, and became heir to the collection. A select number were exhibited in Bloemfontein as part of the Sophia Grey Memorial Lecture, of which Ms Fassler-Kamstra was the first doyenne. An agreement between the Departments of Architecture, University of the Free State and Pretoria, had the exhibition forwarded to the University of Pretoria where they were exhibited in the Gallery in the Old Letters Building. Unfortunately two of the drawings – framed – disappeared from the collection when the exhibition was demounted. Mira Fassler-Kamstra, who arranged that the Fagan collection be safely transported and delivered, graciously made her collection available for digitizing and archiving in order that the University of Pretoria have the complete record of drawings, the only such collection.

In addition the drawings made for Pearse’s two books ‘Eighteenth Century Architecture’ (1933) , 'Eighteenth Century Architecture' (reprint: 1968) and 'Eighteenth Century Furniture'(1960) were made available by the owners, Gawie Fagan and Mira Fassler Kamstra respectively, for high quality digital photographing and digital archiving.

Gawie Fagan has since donated his Collection to the National Archives, Cape Town, after exhibiting the collection at the Castle of Good Hope.

What is interesting about these drawings is that they were measured and drawn by young students who, as graduates and practicing architects, as well as academics, were to make and leave there mark in the annals of architecture, both locally and abroad.

SA Artefacts Database on Geoffrey Eastcott Pearse

A Special word of thanks to Bryan do Vale, Henning van Aswegen and Karlien van Niekerk for their contributions to this collection.

Recent Submissions

  • Unknown (2009-06-12)
    Handdrawn sketch by an unknown artist depicting prof Geoffrey Eastcott Pearse. The medium appears to be sepia pencil on paper.
  • Unknown (2009-06-12)
    From the Pearse Collection: "Woman at her spinning wheel" by Esaias Boursse, 1661, on canvas, housed in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Painting depicting a typical Dutch interior, with a man and a woman sitting by a fireplace.
  • Interior 
    Janssens Elinga, Pieter (2009-06-12)
    From the Pearse Collection: "Interior" by Pieter Janssens Elinga, showing a typical Dutch interior with a woman sitting in a chair reading. The floor and ceiling are both of wooden boards; two leather-covered chairs flank ...
  • Unknown (2009-06-12)
    From the Pearse Collection: Painting, in the naive style, of a white woman and a small black boy at a table. The artist is unknown. The medium appears to be water-colour. The room, probably a kitchen, is furnished with ...
  • Fassler, John (1910-1971); Hanson, Norman Leonard (1909-1991); Pearse, Geoffrey Eastcott (1885-1968) (2009-06-02)
    Drawings of joinery details of the Cape Dutch house La Provence near French Hoek [Franschhoek], including a wall cupboard, an internal screen door, an escutcheon plate, and a door in the north front. The drawings were ...
  • Unknown; Elliot, Arthur, 1870-1938 (2009-05-08)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph by Arthur Elliot depicting a barrack room at The Castle of Good Hope.
  • Unknown; Neethling, J.H. (2009-05-08)
    From the Pearse Collection: a fireproof ceiling ("brandsolder") of the Magazine at Stellenbosch. Photograph probably considered for prof. Geoffrey Pearse's book "Eighteenth Century Architecture in South Africa", but never ...
  • Unknown (2009-05-07)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting the Cape Dutch interior of Groot Constantia. It has a chequered stone floor, and contains various pieces of furniture. These include two gateleg tables, a settee (riempiesbank), ...
  • Glassware 
    Unknown; English, Arthur (2009-05-07)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting a symmetrical arrangement of various glass objects. From the centre: a flask-like object with an early V.O.C. beaker in front; two engraved wine glasses, the one to the left ...
  • Unknown (2009-05-07)
    Photograph depicting various brass objects from the Koopmans de Wet House. Includes a jug, pitcher or urn, trays (salvers or patens), a caddie and a bed warmer. Photograph probably taken for prof. Geoffrey Pearse's book ...
  • Unknown (2009-05-05)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting a dining room in the Arts and Crafts style. A doorway leads to an entrance hall with a coat rack. A wooden picture rail runs around the room, and on the shelves are silver ...
  • Unknown (2009-05-05)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting a soaring wooden staircase. The interior has Arts and Crafts as well as Victorian characteristics. The spandrel framing consists of wood panelling. The ceiling appears to ...
  • Unknown (2009-05-05)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting the elaborately decorated silver Fairbairn Cup. Cups like these were only made at the Cape during the 2nd quarter of the 19th century, but the one depicted is probably of a ...
  • Unknown; Lynn Acutt (Pty.) Ltd. (2009-05-05)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting a simple gateleg table with cabriole legs and pad feet. On the table are two silver candelabra, each with two branches. Photograph probably considered for prof. Geoffrey ...
  • Unknown (2009-05-05)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting an Arts and Crafts interior with two doors seen from a hallway. Two rooms can be seen, one a bedroom and the other probably a dining room. The door frames and picture rail ...
  • Unknown (2009-05-05)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting an Arts and Crafts living room. A gateleg table and two Morris-style easy chairs can be seen. The brick and wood fireplace forms an inglenook with two built-in benches. The ...
  • Chair 
    Unknown (2009-05-05)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting a chair in the Chippendale taste, with the backsplats forming decorative hoops. The seat is upholstered in velvet, and the legs are straight. Photograph probably considered ...
  • Unknown (2009-05-05)
    Painting or drawing showing a great hall - probably from the Renaissance period - with coffered vaults and marble Corinthian columns supporting elaborate entablatures. Several sculpture groups can be seen.
  • Unknown (2009-05-05)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting a panelled Dutch interior with a plastered ceiling, and double doors flanked by two cupboards. The richly carved decoration of floral swags, wreaths and trophies appears to ...
  • Unknown; Elliot, Arthur, 1870-1938 (2009-05-05)
    From the Pearse Collection: photograph depicting the interior of the Cathedral Church of St. George the Martyr in Cape Town, inaugurated on 21 December 1834. Rows of pews can be seen in front, with an organ at the back. ...

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