Anton Anrieth

One of South Africa’s greatest artists.


Anton Anreith was born in a small village in Baden Germany in 1754. At age 22 he made his way to Amsterdam and he enlisted with the Dutch East India Company on a 5-year contract. He was dispatched to the Cape in 1777. Here he probably worked as a house carpenter at the governer’s house in the company’s garden where his talents would have been recognized. He was promoted to the status of master sculptor in 1786. He remained in the service of the company till 1791. In 1782 he accepted a commission from the Lutheran congregation to decorate the organ loft in the church on Strand Street. He also carved the pulpit for the Groote Kerk which is considered to be his finest work in wood. Anton Anrieth worked with and was greatly admired by the renowned architect Louis Thibault. Other commissions include the façade on Martin Melck’s warehouse and the parapet of the Kat balcony at the castle, as well as the pediment over the entrance to the wine cellar at Groot Constantia. By the time of the British occupation in 1806, he had established a school which he merged with the technical school founded by the Freemasons of the Loge de Goede Hoop. Unfortunately, much of his work has been lost but enough examples have survived for posterity to secure his place among South Africa’s greatest artists.