Nita Spilhaus was one of the very first woman professional artists in South Africa.
Her most active artistic period was the time she spent in Cape Town from about 1910 to 1925, when she was one of a close-knit grouping of artist friends, working and exhibiting together.
Nita had been trained as an artist, first in Munich, and then at the Artists' Colony in Dachau, south of Munich. There she painted in the moorland landscapes, under the overcast and cloudy skies, beloved of European landscape artists.
She came out to South Africa in 1908 to join her brother, and uncle's family, who were already firmly established in the Cape. For Nita the move from the hub of European Art to Cape Town, then in its infancy in terms of its art world, was a huge culture shock. But gradually she made friends with a group of artists, and lovers of art, and Nita rapidly established herself as a leading member of the Cape artistic community.
Nita was principally a landscape artist, and her paintings and etchings of trees, the Cape mountains, and the Malay Quarter are probably those that are most associated with her. However a study of her work has revealed the depth and breadth of her artistic subject matter. This is explored in my book about Nita and her circle of artist friends (, which was published in September 2015 in Cape Town). Three retrospective exhibitions of her work were held in South Africa in late 2016/early 2016, which offered insight into a the full range of her work.
For more about the book and the Exhibitions, explore the other tabs.