Three Boys by Marianne Podlashuc

Marianne Podlashuc. Three Boys. 1960. Oil on board. Collection: Rupert Art Foundation, Stellenbosch

View this work as part of the Celebrating the Love of Art Exhibition in the La Motte Museum until 25 July 2021. 

Marianne Podlashuc was born in Holland in 1932, where she lived through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War. This experience not only had an impact on her as a compassionate human being, but also as an artist whose work would echo a profound awareness of social disparities. This consciousness is particularly reflected in her South African work of the 1950s and 1960s.

A well-known example is her painting entitled Three Boys, which was used as the front cover illustration for the Penguin Modern Classics edition of Alan Paton’s iconic work of South African literature, Cry the Beloved Country.

Esmé Berman describes the stylised image as a powerful manifestation of Podlashuc’s response to the realities of less privileged local communities. Hayden Proud similarly states that the stylised figuration of the bleakness and poverty of the children in the image is an expression of Podlashuc’s social conscience, which resulted in not only an artistically accomplished work but also a captivating political appeal. Proud further proposes that these works of Podlashuc anticipated the socially motivated Resistant Art movement of the 1970s and 1980s in South Africa, although at the time she was merely dismissed as a ‘foreigner’ who ‘knew little of South Africa.’

After immigrating to South Africa from Delft in 1952, Marianne settled in Bloemfontein as a practicing artist. Five years later she married the South African artist Alexander Podlashuc with whom she founded the Bloemfontein Group of artists in 1958. Although she participated in group exhibitions, her first solo exhibition only took place in 1977 at the William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberly. Podlashuc’s work unfortunately did not enjoy widespread acknowledgement, and her first retrospective exhibition – ‘A Woman from Delft: The Art of Marianne Podlashuc’ – was only held in 2006, two years after her death.


Arnold, M. 1995. Irma Stern: A feast for the eye. Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation: Stellenbosch.

Berman, E. 1983. Art & Artists of South Africa. AA Balkema: Cape Town.

Irma Stern Museum. 2015. Website. Available:

Proud, H. 2015. Revisions website. Marianne Podlashuc. Available:

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