Tretchi and teen beauty’s ‘most amazing eyes’

Nashira Davids

HER name is Champa Manooa and 63 years ago, when she was 17, she met Vladimir Tretchikoff at one of his exhibitions in a department store in Durban.

She wanted to know why he had not painted Indian women.

“He told her: ‘I would love to paint you. You are beautiful and have the most amazing eyes’,” said Manooa’s daughter, Chameli Jain, yesterday.

One of Tretchikoff’s three paintings of Manooa, The Hindu Dancer, fetched R1.3-million at an auction in Cape Town this week.

The buyer was an Indian man from Durban, Manooa’s home town. She now lives in East Palm Beach in the US and will celebrate her 80th birthday next month.

When asked about the attention her portrait had garnered she said: “I am so excited. I didn’t expect it so many years later.”

The mother of four and grandmother of seven said Tretchikoff paid for her to come to Cape Town in 1950, where she posed in his studio for the three paintings.

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