News South Africa

Nelson Mandela has died, aged 95

Imprisoned under South Africa’s apartheid regime for 27 years, he was frequently portrayed by artists, photographers and sculptors after his release

A photograph of Nelson Mandela by Adrian Steirn sold in New York this week for $200,000, with part of the proceeds going to a children’s hospital named after the South African president in Johannesburg. AP Photo/Adrian Steirn—The Ginkgo Agency

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, died today, aged 95, after a long illness. A prisoner of the country’s post-war apartheid regime for 27 years, he survived and went on to lead the African National Congress to victory in the country's first multi-racial elections in 1994.

During his long years imprisoned on Robben Island, few images of Mandela were taken. He was tried and sentenced as a young man—the anti-apartheid lawyer and politician narrowly escaped a death sentence when he was tried along with ten others for sabotage and conspiracy in what became known as the Rivonia trial of 1963-64. After he was released, he was frequently portrayed by artists, photographers and sculptors.

The South African-born, Netherlands-based artist Marlene Dumas created one of the most famous portraits of Mandela, depicting him as a young man. The artist donated the work to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in 2009.

A photograph of Mandela by Adrian Steirn sold in New York this week for $200,000. Eykyn Maclean, New York and London, facilitated the sale, part of the proceeds of which will go to a children’s hospital named after Mandela in Johannesburg.

The statesman also turned his hand to drawing during his life, creating a set of sketches of Robben Island loosley based on photographs taken by Grant Warren. According to the co-owner of the Belgravia Gallery, which sells lithographs of the works, Mandela once said "he would much prefer to be an artist, rather than a book writer".

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