Nelson Mandela's prison door drawing to go under the hammer

A drawing by Nelson Mandela that will be auctioned in New York on May 2.
A drawing by Nelson Mandela that will be auctioned in New York on May 2.
Image: Bonhams

One of late former president Nelson Mandela's artworks, which depicts his cell door on Robben Island, has been offered for auction by his daughter Makaziwe Mandela, auctioneers Bonhams announced on Friday.

Bonhams said that when Mandela retired as president in June 1999, what was less well known was that following his retirement, he began a new career as a talented artist.

"When my father retired as the president, he didn't have much to do.

"I think for him, art was a good way of expressing himself or trying to come to terms with his history and his - I wouldn't want to say demons - but just coming to terms with his whole life," Makaziwe said.

Mandela began a series of sketches on the subject of Robben Island in early 2002.

He painted under the watchful eye of his art teacher, Varenka Paschke, who aided with the basic composition of the sketches and method of the colour applications.

The auctioneer said around 22 sketches were completed that included images he found meaningful, both symbolically and emotionally, during the period of his incarceration on the island.

Ten of these original drawings were then reproduced as editions of lithographs - "My Robben Island" in 2002 and "Reflections of Robben Island" in 2003.

The auctioneer said the drawing of his cell door on Robben Island was produced at this time but was not used for the edition of lithographs, it remained in the collection of the Mandela family.