About the artist:
Henk Vos was born in Amsterdam, Holland in 1946. He studied art at the Johannesburg School of Art and begun his career as a commercial artist and newspaper cartoonist. In 1975 he became a full-time artist, specialising in wildlife. From 1982 onwards he concentrated on equestrian subjects. In both these fields he has received international recognition. Henk was invited to exhibit at the World Wilderness Congress in 1977, and the Wildlife Artist of the World exhibition in 1985. He has also displayed his work in New York, Holland and Zimbabwe. Henk’s painting “Survival of the Giants” became the symbol in the African campaign to save the disappearing herds of elephants. Henk Vos is amongst a handful of people who have understood Africa well enough to capture it on canvas. He is a master wildlife artist, but he is also known as a artist who really cares. He has also contributed many paintings to the conservationist’s cause. Since 1992 it became Henk’s ambition to capture on canvas a painting in oil, of epic proportions and so commemorate the 100th running of what has become the jewel in the crown of the South African horse racing calendar, the Rothmans JULY. After years of research which had taken him to museums and archives all round the country, Henk was eventually forced to nail down his final canvas to 5 meters long by 1.2 meters high. With time running out, his tubes of paint came under starters orders on the 1st January 1995 and his private July race had begun. He titled this “The Painting of the Century”. "It is well-known that Henk Vos is, arguably, the foremost equine and wildlife painter in South Africa. Deservedly so this may be, it is a hard-earned reputation which diminishes the true picture of this Dutch-born master. Henk's accurate interpretation of detail and his gifted ability to capture the majestic grace; the magnificence of our continent's great animals, has taken his life's work beyond the imagery of contemporary art. The rich textures and subtle shades of his paintings, and the immense precision with which he captures the light and landscapes of Africa, have gained him world-wide acclaim. His work was formally introduced in 1983 at one of the world's most prestigious art galleries in New York. Here, in the mecca of contemporary art, Henk Vos was acclaimed as "the most important new wildlife painter of the century." His enormous oil, "Survival of the Giants," became the very symbol of the wildlife conservationist movement in Africa during the early 80s. A triumphant five-year-long adventure for Henk came to pass in 1997 with his "Painting of the Century," a massive 5m masterpiece depicting the 100-year history of South Africa's greatest race, the Durban July Handicap. In his own words, the great artist explains: "Gold, diamonds and the sheer space of South Africa before the turn of the century, attracted great men and women who were destined for greatness." Because humanity lies always at the core, for almost a decade now, Henk Vos has had a dream: To bring to life on canvas the most eventful century in South African recorded history, a painting in oil of epic proportions to celebrate the South African Renaissance - from the seafarer Van Riebeeck to the icon, Mandela. Which living artist today spends up to 10 years planning and completing a single work of art. Is Henk Vos, perhaps, the Rembrandt or the Michaelangelo of the 21st century? After years of research, which took him to museums and archives all round the country, Henk was eventually forced to nail down his final canvas. It was five metres long by 1.2 metres high. With time having run out, his tubes of paint came under “starters orders” on the 1st January 1995, signaling the start of his own private “July” race. This fun filled book which he produced is intended as a guide that is able to take the reader and observer of the painting on a “guided tour”. It explains the significance of every detail that appears in the painting, as well as other interesting historical and anecdotal information. Henk was born in Amsterdam, Holland in 1946. He studied art at the Johannesburg School of Art and begun his career as a commercial artist and newspaper cartoonist. In 1975 he became a full-time artist, specialising in wildlife. From 1982 onwards he concentrated on equestrian subjects. In both these fields he has received International recognition. Henk was invited to exhibit at the “World Wilderness Congress” in 1979, and the “Wildlife Artist of the World” exhibition in 1985. He has also displayed his work in New York and Zimbabwe. Henk’s painting “Survival of the Giants”, became the symbol in the African campaign to save the disappearing herds of elephants. Henk is amongst a handful of people who have understood Africa well enough to capture it on canvas. Although he is a Master Wildlife Artist but, he is also known as a artist who really cares. He has also donated many paintings to the conservationist’s cause. A CENTURY DAWNS ON THE SPORT OF KINGS... By the start of the century leading up to the millennium, men ... and women who were destined for greatness, were attracted, like bees to an exotic bloom, to the prospect of wealth from gold, diamonds and the sheer space of South Africa. The last one hundred years have turned out to be the most eventful in recorded history, bringing with it fantastic advances in medical technology, the motor car, the bioscope, space travel and radio. This tumultuous century of high achievement also brought with it science which changed the face of the world, two bloody and merciless wars, affecting all aspects of human life. Winning the July Handicap has become the dream of all South African racehorse owners, trainers and jockeys. There is no achievement in the country’s racing calendar that compares with the thrill of winning this sought after prize. I have discovered that sources of information sometimes conflict with each other. To this end I have tried to clarify and verify which events were the most likely and in which order they would have occurred. However, some readers may disagree with my findings. I trust this will not detract from the intended enjoyment of what I believe is a remarkable story. I wish to extend my special thanks to the following organisations for their unfailing help and services they provided me through the many years that it took me to produce this painting: The Durban Turf Club; The Natal Newspapers; The Don Africana Library; The Campbell Africana Museum; The Local History Museum in Durban ; as well as The African Mirror Archives in Pretoria. Not to mention the support, patience and advice from the countless racing personalities throughout South Africa that I came in contact with. Extract from a American Express Wildlife Print Promotion: "Henk Vos is regarded by experts as not only the finest wildlife painter working in Africa today, but as one of the best wildlife artists to come out of A frica this century. In 1983, his work will be formally introduced at one of the world’s most prestidious art galleries in New York. Here in the mecca of contemporary art, Henk Vos is destined to be acclaimed– as he is abroad—as probably the most important new wildlife of the century. The most exciting since William Kuhnert, who died more than 50 years ago. Born in Holland, Henk Vos has spent most of his 38 years on the continent of Africa. He studied at the haven for big game painters, the Johannesburg School of Art. And, after two major exhibitions, he was honored with an invitation to exhibit at the World Wilderness Congress held in association with the great art/auction house of Sotherby Parks Bernet. It was the biggest show ever held in Africa and launched Henk Vos into international prominence. In 1980—81, during the great African campaign to move the threatened elephants, it was Henk Vos to whom they turned to depict the urgency of the task. His massive oil, “Survival of the Giants,” became the very symbol of the conservationist movement in Africa. He has always given his time and valuable paintings to raise money to save these giants of the jungle from the “ivory massacre”. His fame has never diminished his deep commitment to the animals that inspire him. The exclusive limited edition now being offered by invitation through American Express will be the first collotype print ever to be created for Henk Vos. The edition was pressed in the United States, at his insistence, with the traditional French method of collotype, perfected in the 19th century in Paris by Toulouse –Lautrec and other Impressionists. To achieve this, Vos flew to New York where perhaps the most famous collotype atr press in the world is located. Under his keen eye, each of the prints was made with up to 15 colors laid down, with each sheet hand fed onto the press-the very same press which is used to create prints for Andrew Wyeth and for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Each of the prints was fully approved to Vos’s specifications before he personally signed them."
Henk Vos was born in Amsterdam, Holland in 1946. He studied art at the Johannesburg School of Art and begun his career as a commercial artist and newspaper cartoonist. In 1975 he became a full-time artist, specialising in wildlife. From 1982 onwards