Lot 340
  • 340

Roland Strasser

180,000 - 250,000 HKD
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  • Roland Strasser
  • Dancers
  • Signed
  • Oil on canvas
  • 54 by 67.5 cm.; 21 1/4 by 26 1/2 in.


The work is in good condition overall, as is the canvas, which is clear and sound. Indication of light wear and handling is evident along the margins, but paint layers are well-preserved. There are gentle craquelures mainly located on the top margin and right register (dark blue paint). Examination under ultraviolet light reveals light restoration on the top half of the painting, mainly around the top margin and among the seated figures. Framed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Roland Strasser is respected as one of the great artist-explorers of the early 20th century, for his oeuvre reads as an exciting travelogue of the places that he visited during his lifetime. It was the artist’s trip to Egypt at 17 years old, and subsequently his first trip abroad, which inspired his vagabond aspirations. Contrary with his peers, the Austrian painter desired to travel to locations that few Europeans had yet to frequent, a dream that was made possible by his job as an artist for the Imperial War Press that distributed news stories about World War I. When he left that position, Strasser sold his paintings as means to financially assist in his return overseas. A few notable destinations that he visited, and artistically documented, were Thailand, New Guinea, Indonesia, China and Mongolia.

The present work Dancers perfectly exemplifies Strasser’s intuitive understanding of foreign countries, and the local residents. An avid traveller, his paintings are often portrayals of what he perceived to be exotic as per his European upbringing. However, unlike his contemporaries who were inspired by their ideal of the “other”, Strasser’s paintings may act as a sociological analysis, albeit within a visual paradigm, of places that few during this period had studied, let alone visited.

The key principles in the Dancers are the two women who personify the title of the painting. Reminiscent of a mating dance, the woman in the foreground mirrors her companion’s graceful gestures, their hands and feet shadowing each other, amidst the group of men gathered around the fire to watch their performance. Strasser has captured what is an intimate scene, however by providing the viewer insight into rural life, he is ultimately paying homage to the joys of human relationships.

The painting Dancers was created during the artist’s time in Bali in the mid-twenties, where he spent eighteen months recording the people and local culture in his artworks. There he met fellow artist Willem Dooijewaard. The two men soon took up the roles of mentor and student, with the artist inspired by the older man’s skill in figurative painting. This relationship was fruitful for both parties, with Strasser’s influence later visible in the Dutch artist’s chosen motifs and creative styles.

A true embodiment of the nomadic foreigner, Strasser trained his anthropological eye to document the beauty that he found in each country. He leaves behind an artistic legacy, as seen in the works of European painters who sought to follow in his footsteps.