The Eastern Cape Royal House purchased 19th century portraits of Xhosa kings and royal personalities for just over half a million rand at an auction in Cape Town last night.
Earlier, these paintings, which date back to the mid-nineteenth century, caused quite a stir. The South African Heritage Resources Agency stepped in saying it will protect this national legacy. The Agency and traditional leaders were outraged at the artworks being sold off and tried to stop the auction. SAHRA's Regina Isaacs said: 'There are not many of these paintings as black people were not considered significant then'.
A representative of the Royal House, Chief Fadana, said he was happy that the wishes of his king had been fulfilled with the purchase of the paintings.
An English artist Frederick Timpson I'Ons was commissioned to paint them in 1853 by the then Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Cathcart.
The portraits of Sandile, Phato, Maqoma, Siyolo, and Mqhayi were meant to portray the Xhosa leaders as fearsome foes. The portraits were painted while they were in custody, clasped in irons.
Text by SABC News, South Africa