L’Ancêtre / The Ancestor Tapestry

L Ancêtre  or The Ancestor is a painting, seemingly abstract but not so on closer scrutiny,  which pays tribute to Mancoba’s great grandmother at the same time as it pays tribute to the land of his birth, South Africa.  The colours of the land and  the stories of its people’s are reflected in this painting, which also has a call for peace and dialogue at its centre. The Constitutional Court will be the recipient of a tapestry of this painting. It is an apt work  to be woven into a tapestry to  hang in the highest seat of justice of our land.


L’ANCETRE (1969 – 71) ERNEST MANCOBA, Oil on canvas, 92.3 x 60.3 cm, Johannesburg Art Gallery

Mancoba’s work is mainly in collections in Europe. There are a few pieces, including L’Ancetre, in South Africa either in private hands or in gallery collections. This project, supported by the Department of Arts and Culture, provides an opportunity for this significant work to be on permanent public display in South Africa and inform the ongoing discourse about lost aspects of our heritage.

Serendipitously, at the same time as the youth of South Africa are questioning the meaning of history and symbolism in public sculpture the trust is able to provide a bust for public display of an ‘unknown’ black man  done in the 1930s which is in fact that of  the  internationally recognised painter and sculptor, Ernest Mancoba as a young man.


Dorothy Randall (1935) Plaster of Paris