Purchased from Donaldson’s first one-man show at Rowan Gallery in 1963, South African Grand Prix has remained in the same private collection. It is one of only six works he painted depicting the legendary racing driver Jim Clark. Four were approximately 5ft x 5ft, including For Jim Clark (sold in these Rooms on 19 November 2014 for £242,500), and two were produced on a more intimate scale of just over 1ft x 1ft, the present lot and Small Car Picture (private collection, London). These two smaller paintings are from only a handful of works, where Donaldson used a handsaw to cut out the different components of the composition from a panel of wood, then gluing them back onto a piece of board like a completed jig-saw puzzle. Donaldson abandoned this working method as the process was too time-consuming. However, he has recently produced some new works using a laser to cut the images.
South African Grand Prix depicts Jim Clark in the final race of the 1962 Formula One season held at East London, South Africa, on 29 December. Gaining pole position Clark led the race after 62 laps. With 20 laps remaining to secure the world championship he was forced to retire with an oil leak, handing the title to Graham Hill. Donaldson sourced the image from either Autosport Magazine or Motoring News but chose to number the car ‘1’ in honour of his hero who he saw as the rightful champion.
We are very grateful to Antony Donaldson for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.