Stellenbosch through the eyes of early artists

Stellenbosch through the eyes of early artists


Imagine yourself in the Stellenbosch of 200 or 100 years ago… Thanks to artists we have a good idea of what Stellenbosch looked like before photography was common. Here are some fascinating art pieces revealing the town historic architecture, social life and the development of its infrastructure.

I took these images from books, but most of the original paintings are in the Cape archive. As an artist myself I would love to see them in real life. For now, here is a small selection of art from Stellenbosch’s art treasury:


Pencil drawing by C. Neethling, Feb 1918 showing the famous Twin Peaks. Perhaps the drawing was made on commission for the 1918 Gedenkboek van het Victoria College, in which it appears.



The Kruithuis seen from Mark Street. 1867. Watercolour by Thomas W. Bowler (original in colour).

 Thomas Bowler was one of the most famous early artists in South Africa. The ‘wasbalie‘ (washing basin) bottom left might suggests some washing was done here.



Depiction of Stellenbosch, 1776. Watercolour by Johannes Schumacher.

The Eerste River is clearly seen meandering through town, with the Plankenbrug River branching off bottom right. The main road entering town is the ‘wagenweg naar de Kaap’, later Dorp Street.



Part of a drawing of Stellenbosch by E. V. Stade, 15 Feb 1710 (drawn just a few months before the devastating fire).

 Dorp street houses only a few buildings, including the first church (middle, left with a steeple), which burned down.



One half of an ink drawing by Charles D’Oyly, depicting the Eerste river from the garden of the Drostdy, 17 October 1832



Watercolour depicting Stellenbosch mountains (with Simonsberg at the far left). Johannes Schumacher, 1776.



Ink drawing of the Eerste waterval in Jonkershoek, Charles D’Oyly, 18 Oktober 1832 – it must’ve been a wet winter season. Bottom left is a small figure, indicating scale.


To read more about Stellenbosch’s mountains, click here

To find out where the name Jonkershoek comes from, click here




‘nDromer is a young Stellenbosser who loves writing about the everyday things that often go unnoticed. She likes dusty books and seeing how the past isn’t always what it seems. She has written about Stellenbosch, it’s heritage and it’s people almost every week since 2015.

Article: Y Coetsee 2017
Sources: Stellenbosch Drie Eeue 1979
Gedenkboek van het Victoria College 1918

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