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SENEQUE, Joseph Louis Clement

Born: 1896 08 14
Died: 1930 05


Was born in Phoenix, Mauritius. It is not certain when the family settled in Durban but it seems likely that it was before 1908. Seneque was educated at the Berea Academy. There is evidence to suggest that by 1915 he was serving his apprenticeship with CHICK & BARTHOLOMEW and remained here until 1921 when he left for France. Research has shown that there is no evidence Seneque attended architectural or other classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and it is assumed that the architect and town-planner, M Alfred Agache, played a significant role in Seneque's studies and career. He married in France in 1923 and it was in France that he held his first one-man exhibition in early 1925, while working for Agache. Their work together for the municipality of Dunkirk is undocumented; it is likely Seneque was acting as a draughtsman. In 1925 he returned to South Africa, a decision he found hard since Agache had invited him to accompany him in setting up an office in Brazil. In Durban he set up practice on his own account, receiving a few commissions for domestic buildings and various alteration schemes. He entered a number of competitions, the most prestigious of which was the City of Light competition, a town planning scheme for Durban in 1928 and 1929. He produced at least three other theoretical projects: a scheme for a Palace of Fine Arts in 1925, a model cottage in 1927 and a Durban Indian war memorial in 1928/29. His office was at this time at 17 Anstey's Building, Durban. In 1926 he was placed second in the competition for the Bethlehem Town Hall, and at a meeting to elect a South African Institute of Artists District executive, he was elected one of the eighteen Vice-Presidents and a member of the Executive Committee. In 1927 Seneque was invited by E Lezard to exhibit work in Johannesburg and in 1928 received added publicity when his sketches for the proposed Durban Arts Ball on the theme of the Arabian Nights were published in the local press. The Ball project was abandoned for lack of funds. In 1929 Seneque was awarded a prize for the best detailed scheme for the City of Vision competition and was elected Vice-President of the Natal Society of Art in April 1929. His house for Signor Redondi at Riverside shows Seneque working in the popular Spanish Mission style in 1929 and an earlier house (1927), illustrated by Bell (1987:235) shows Seneque working in the same style. There is little doubt that Seneque's training in architectural draughting played a major role in his paintings of structural objects. He is better known as a painter than as an architect and his works hang in several South African galleries. Seneque died suddenly of pneumonia in Durban, aged thirty-four. He is buried in West Street cemetery.

ISAA 1927. (ISAA mem list;Ntl Mercury 1.5.1930:17; Ntl Mercury 2.5. 1930: 21 obit; NAD MSCE 15652; Ons Kuns (i)1969: 79; SAAR Mar 1931:26; SAB May 1930:43, death notice)

Publ: Some woodcuts by Clement Seneque, 1926, Durban

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

City of Vision, projects: 1928. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
Durban Indian war memorial, project: 1928. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
House: 1927. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
House M Redondi, Riverside: 1929. Durban North, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
L'Etang's Bldg, façade: 1929. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect

Books citing SENEQUE

Bell, B. 1988. Clement Seneque: life and work, including catalogue raisonne. Pietermaritzburg: MA thesis, University of Natal. pp

Berman, Esmé. 1983. Art and artists of South Africa: An illustrated biographical dictionary and historical survey of painters, sculptors and graphic artists since 1875. Cape Town : Balkema. pp 37, 121+ill, 137, 191, 192, 244, 296, 419-420+ills

Berman, Esmé. 1970. Art and artists in South Africa : an illustrated biographical dictionary and historical survey of painters and graphic artists since 1875. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 30, 85+ill, 100, 134, 169, 200, 271, 272 ill, 337

Fransen, Hans. 1982. Three centuries of South African art : fine art, architecture, applied arts. Johannesburg: AD Donker. pp 179

Hillebrand, Melanie. 1986. Art and architecture in Natal, 1910-1940. Pietermaritzburg: Unpublished Ph.D. Dept Fine Art and History of Art, University of Natal. pp

ISAA. 1927. Register of Members the Institute of South African Architects. Johannesburg: ISAA (Unpublished Record). pp S4

Jeppe, Harold. 1964. Suid-Afrikaanse kunstenaars, 1900-1962. Johannesburg: Afrikaanse Pers Boekhandel. pp

Ogilvie, Grania & Graff, Carol. 1988. Dictionary of South African painters and sculptors, including Namibia. Johannesburg: Everard Read. pp 597

SABC. 1959. Our Art 1. Pretoria: Lantern / SABC. pp 79-83