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Walter Battiss Art Gallery and Museum, Somerset East

Walter Batiss Gallery and Art Museum, Somerset EastThe Walter Batiss Art Gallery and Museum in Somerset East is based in a beautiful old building that started life as an Officers Mess, and for the construction of which exotic materials were brought up from Cape Town. Yellowwood from the Boschberg provided wood and beams for some partitions of the first floor. Several fireplaces have the royal coat of arms built into them.

The building once belonged to the Battiss family, who ran it as a temperance hotel. It still functions as an art gallery housing the largest collection of Battiss’s work in Africa, and was fully restored in 1999.

In an official ceremony held in front of the white-gabled house in Paulet Street, Somerset East in 1981, Walter Whall Battiss (76) bequeathed his collection of his own art works to “the people of Somerset East and South Africa. His large frame, neatly dressed in pin-striped shirt and suit, contrasted with his long white hair and goatee.

Battiss acquired an art teaching diploma and a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 1941 from UNISA. In 1938 he paid the first of several visits to Europe where he met various successful poets and painters. During this time he forged a lasting friendship with Pablo Piccasso.

Walter Batiss PaintingsWalter Battiss’ long career as an artist has been devoted to the study of man in his environment; first in the context of Africa and rock art, then, later, in the interpretation of this concept in its broadest sense. His versatility and influence as in innovator, and the incentive he has provided for many aspiring artists, have secured him a special place among leading South African artists.

Contact Details: 042 243 1448/073 698 6539: 67 Paulet Street, Somerset East: Hours: Weekdays 08H30 to 13H00 and 14H00 to 17H00 – weekends, by appointment 10H00 to 12H00. Please phone ahead.

More info on the town of Somerset East More info on the Karoo Heartland area



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