The Department of Prints and Drawings is responsible for the care and acquisition of all works on paper. For prudent financial reasons over the years, there has been an emphasis on acquiring more affordable works on paper by many international and local artists. This has resulted in this collection being the strongest, largest and most diverse within Iziko Art Collections, with over 1712 drawings and 3600 prints excluding the Sekoto Study collection.
All drawing media, except silver-point, are represented and all types of print media are covered in its holdings. The early historical prints include examples by Martin Schongauer, Michael Wohlgemnut and Albrecht Dürer. All the major South African printmakers are well represented. There are particularly strong collections of prints by Jacob Pierneef, Cecil Skotnes and of artists who trained at Rorke’s Drift like Azaria Mbatha, Eric Mbatha, John Muafangejo and Cyprian Shilakoe. Contemporary printmakers like Peter Clarke, William Kentridge, Andrew Verster and Diane Victor are well represented. The collection is not strong in 19th century South African prints and drawings, although there are very good examples of works by Thomas Bowler, Abraham de Smidt and Heinrich Wilhelm Hermann. Cartoonists and artists who specialised in caricatures from D C Boonzaier and Wim Muller through to William Papas, David Marais, John H Jackson, Derek Bauer and Jonathan Shapiro extend the breadth and scope of the collection. In 2000 the National Gallery was fortunate enough to receive a donation from the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology of over 2500 items from the estate of Gerard Sekoto. This donation has augmented significantly the collection of South African drawings which includes, amongst many others, examples of major drawings by Dumile Feni, Gladys Mgudlandlu, Billy Mandindi, Leonard Matsoso, Helen Sebidi and Karel Nel.
There is also a sizeable collection of early 20th century British prints and drawings mainly as a result of a significant donation of prints from the British Government. All of the prints that were donated are lithographs and include works by notable artists such as George Clausen, Eric Kennington and C. R. W Nevinson. A feature of the early 20th century British collection is the 90 etchings and lithographs by Frank Brangwyn which were donated by the artist. There is a small, but choice, collection of French 19th century works by artists such as Charles Daubigny, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Eugéne Delaxcroix. A large and representative collection of lithographs by Honoré Daumier is of particular importance.
There is a significant selection of Japanese Ukiyo-ye prints, with fine examples by all the major Ukiyo-ye artists such as Utamaro, Hiroshige and Hokusai. During the first half of the 1980s it was possible to collect prints by international artists and there are examples of works by, amongst others, Pablo Picasso, David Hockney, Jasper Johns and Jörg Immendorff. There is superb and comprehensive selection of sporting drawings and prints, as well as some fine portrait and landscape prints and drawings from the Sir Abe Bailey Bequest. The collection of sporting prints and drawings is one of the best outside of Britain and the United States. All the major artists who produced prints and drawings in this genre such as the Henry Alken, William Howitt, George Hunt and William Woollett are well represented.
In terms of a collection strategy and future acquisitions, there is now a strong and dedicated focus on contemporary drawing and printmaking. To this end, works by Mongezi Ncaphayi, Alexandra Karakashian, David Koloane and Zyma Amien have been acquired.