A world record has been set for South African artist Stanley Pinker, with his painting Love, right, selling for R3.4 million.

The “rare and undocumented” artwork, which depicts a lounging woman, was sold on Monday night at a Strauss & Co auction after attracting much attention.

The sale was “hotly contested between 10 telephone bidders and buyers in the packed auction room”, read an auction house media release.

Pinker, who died in 2012 aged 87, was born in the Northern Cape and spent much of his life in Cape Town.

“To begin with, his paintings revolved almost entirely around the landscape but, as he became increasingly aware of the complexities of this society, he began to introduce figures. As time progressed, he became known for his conceptual approach to painting, and his own particular style evolved,” read a biography on the auction house website.

According to Strauss & Co, Love was influenced by Pinker’s time living in the UK and France in the 1950s and 60s.

“This is… a woman whose awareness of her own power lends her a sexy, Bohemian appeal. Her bouffant hair, a la Brigitte Bardot, is tousled as if she was recently aroused from sleep, but still remains stylish,” it says.

Other highlights of the sale included Irma Stern’s Dakar Woman, which sold for R6.6m; Alexis Preller’s Red Angel, which went for R2.8m; and Harvest Scene by Maggie Laubser, knocked down for just under R2.3m. - The Star