This study is based on the catalogue/checklist of Pierneef works in the Pretoria Art Museum collection. The artist’s life, social, political and artistic influences of the period, both local and international, may be deduced from works analysed and discussed. The Arts and Crafts movement was a powerful influence affecting ideas on national identity, folk art and the vernacular from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards. A world-wide romantic nationalism stimulated a search for identity and exploitation of the indigenous. It is argued that these trends may be identified in the artistic development of Pierneef who, through friends, wide reading and intensive study was alive to European developments but focused on the indigenous arts of Southern Africa. He was the first South African artist to recognize Busman art and that of the black peoples. They had a profound influence on his own development and the motifs of his art.