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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Classic Dignity

We always have a soft spot and a warm heart for Cape Dutch homes: the regal imposing facades with the gables, the blindingly white lime-washed walls and the very thickness of the walls! The gables in our architecture also served a practical purpose: if the thatch caught fire, the gable would prevent burning debris from blocking the door!

This is the main section of the Bokbaai homestead, a little worse for the wear, as she is not lived in, yet with dignity intact. We can try to imagine her a few hundred years ago. This was not a weekend hideaway or holiday house like those in Newport, Rhode Island. This was the homestead of a working farm, as the Cape had to play it's role as provider for the ships which would dock in Table Bay for a month to buy produce and livestock, not only for the passage to the East, but also, in the 17th and 18th century to provide food and essentials for the British experimental settlements in Australia.

I like to think that a ship returning from the Antipodes had brought little saplings of the Norfolk Pines and that three of them are towering here over the old homestead today! Do not take this for the truth, but from the imagination of a person who has just read Colleen McCullough's "Morgan's Run" on the early history of Norfolk Island!

A wonderful artist in Geneva has been following this blog and the places I have painted so far, on Google Earth! To Theresa and other studious people, you will find the precious small bay, the thatched homestead with its long extension wing and its small outbuildings on 33degrees 34' 15.70" S and 18degrees 19' 28.39" E. Welcome to the West Coast!


  1. Another beautiful painting!

    The fact regarding the gable protecting the doorway is very interesting! How thick would the walls be on a building like this?

  2. The fact about the gables came from high school history of art, I think! Walls are 300 to 450 mm wide. It makes wide window sills for displaying copper or flowers or for a lazy cat to settle!

  3. Fascinating facts and beautiful painting, Marie! Thank you so much for putting up the coordinates on google earth for our benefit! Have a great day and happy painting!

  4. Also never knew about gables. So much we native Capetonians don't know about our city! Even as an artistic philistine, I agree with poster somewhere on an earlier post that this blog should be developed into an illustrated coffee table book. What about it Marie?

  5. You are all very kind! We will give it time until I go closer to one hundred pics. If no publisher have discovered (ha-ha) me by then, I will approach a few.


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