Sir Henry Raeburn Brigadier-General Alexander Walker of Bowland (detail) 1819. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by the Walker family 1984

Sir Henry Raeburn Brigadier-General Alexander Walker of Bowland (detail) 1819. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by the Walker family 1984

The East India Company man: Brigadier-General Alexander Walker

Getting to know people can take time. While preparing for a future exhibition of early portraits from the collection, I'm becoming acquainted with Alexander Walker, and finding him a rewarding subject. Painted in 1819 by the leading Scottish portraitist of his day, Sir Henry Raeburn, Walker's portrait is wrought with Raeburn's characteristic blend of painterly vigour and attentive care and conveys the impression of a well-captured likeness.

Alexander Walker's steady gaze inhabits craggy, lived-in features. Although well accustomed to leadership, he wears a stoic humility; he appears thoughtful and humane. Indeed, he is a man who has weighed significant matters. Walker's far-reaching experiences and observations have also been preserved within his substantial body of writings, most of which are unpublished. Yet his remarkable story remains hardly told.

Walker was born in 1764 in Collessie, Scotland, the eldest of five children. His father William, a Church of Scotland minister, died when the boy was seven. Although he was able to study at the grammar school and university at St Andrews, he later recalled that 'poverty was vouchsafed... as a Counter balance to Family Pride [and its] younger Branches had to seek their fortunes in distant lands'.1 

His transition to adulthood would occur in India.

William Daniell Troops crossing a river in India c.1790. Watercolour. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

William Daniell Troops crossing a river in India c.1790. Watercolour. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

A cadet in the East India Company from 1780, Walker sailed to Bombay in 1781. The following year he became an ensign and took part in a campaign against the forts of the Muslim military ruler, Hyder Ali, on the Malabar Coast. He also fought with the 8th Battalion in defence of the fort at Mangalore against a siege led by Ali's son, Tipu Sultan. When the British surrendered on 30 January 1784, though severely wounded, he offered himself as one of two required hostages during a truce, 'notwithstanding the reputation of Tippoo at that period ... for cruelty and perfidy'. For four months they 'were subjected to a variety of privations and insults, and even considered their lives in danger'.2

Unknown artist Tipu Sultan undated. Ink, gouache and gold on paper. UC Berkeley, Berkeley Art Museum

Unknown artist Tipu Sultan undated. Ink, gouache and gold on paper. UC Berkeley, Berkeley Art Museum

The National Library of Scotland holds a vast archive of Walker's correspondence and papers, running to almost 600 large volumes, many of which he had prepared for publication. Among these is a hefty journal titled Voyage to America, 1785, which was finally published nearly 200 years after the event.3  Ensign Walker was barely twenty-one when he was chosen to accompany a private expedition to the north-west coast of America, 'the object [of which] was to collect furs and to establish a military post at Nootka Sound, which it was intended he should command'.4  Fur was required for the China market and in the hope of opening trade with Japan. Inspired and guided by an account of James Cook's third voyage, published in 1784, Walker and his companions spent most of their time at Friendly Village (Yuquot), a seasonal settlement in Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, purchasing mainly sea otter pelts from the local population. 'Experience showed us,' Walker wrote, 'that the best method of Trading with these People was to wait patiently on board, where the Canoes never failed to flock from all quarters. We never had any success, when we pursued them ashore.' The most desired commodities for the Nootka were copper and iron.

William Sharp, after John Webber A Man of Nootka Sound 1784. Engraving. British Museum

William Sharp, after John Webber A Man of Nootka Sound 1784. Engraving. British Museum

An illustration by John Webber, A Man of Nootka Sound, mirrors Walker's description of an individual who captured his attention upon their arrival:

A person in one of the largest Canoes, whom we supposed to be a chief, from the superior ferocity of his looks, and the exclusive privilege, that he seemed to enjoy, of sitting idle. He was about 35 Years old, and apparently possessed of much strength. He had his face eminently disfigured, and his Hair plaistered with red ochre, thick powdered with feathers, and tied in a bunch over his forehead with a Straw rope.5

William Sharp, after John Webber The interior of a house in Nootka Sound 1784. Engraving. British Museum

William Sharp, after John Webber The interior of a house in Nootka Sound 1784. Engraving. British Museum

Familiarity with the Nootka grew: 'We were daily among them, and lived in a manner in their Society. We saw their usual course of Life, and often mixed in their Occupations, or Amusements.'6  Although a trading post was not established, Walker's intrinsic interest in people and love of learning led him to build a valuable ethnological record, gathering much detail about Nootka life and adding significantly to vocabularies collected by Cook. Although he could see the profitable potential of the region's vast forests, Walker also foresaw that benefits to the indigenous inhabitants through European contact would be few.

John Rogers, after Henry Singleton The last effort and fall of Tippoo Sultaun undated. Engraving. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery library archives

John Rogers, after Henry Singleton The last effort and fall of Tippoo Sultaun undated. Engraving. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery library archives

Rejoining the Grenadier Battalion at the Bombay garrison, Walker began his advance through the East India Company ranks. Promoted to lieutenant in 1788, he was adjutant in a 1790 expedition sent to relieve the Rajah of Travancore; in 1791 he was adjutant of the 10th Native Infantry in a campaign against the dreaded Tipu. In 1797 he became a regimental captain and was appointed deputy quartermaster-general of the Bombay army, with the rank of major. He became deputy auditor-general in 1798, and quartermaster-general in 1799, when he took part in the final war against Tipu at Seringapatam and their adversary was killed. Walker was awarded an honorary gold medal; the East India Company gained territory and valuable spoils.

Based on the west coast of India through the 1790s, Walker maintained his interest in observation and learning. Among his manuscripts and correspondence in the National Library of Scotland is a significant collection of his sketchbooks of people and ships of the Malabar Coast; Edinburgh University Library holds two large volumes of his drawings of Malabar plants and trees. A vast collection of Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit and Hindi manuscripts acquired during his years in India is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

In 1800, Major Walker was sent to the Mahratta states to bring peace to the region and reform to the ruling confederacy, aims that he achieved; a period of attendance on the commanding officer, Sir Arthur Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington), followed. In 1802, he was appointed political resident at the court of the Gaekwad of Baroda, with whom he later negotiated a defensive alliance. In 1807, he led an expedition into Kathiawar in Gujarat, where he succeeded in restoring order and, more notably, in ending the Jhareja Rajputs' customary practice of female infanticide.7  It was later said that 'his military achievements, his civil successes, sank to nothing in his estimation, compared with this nobler triumph. Be it remembered, too, that it was a victory ... solely effected by persuasion and reason.'8  Walker was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1808. The following year, when he returned to Gujarat, 'he was gratified by the visits of crowds of parents, bringing to him the children whose lives he had been the means of saving'.9  In 1810, he obtained leave to quit India in pursuit of a more settled life at his newly purchased Bowland estate near Galashiels and Edinburgh. He married Barbara Montgomery on 12 July 1811.

Sir Henry Raeburn Mrs Barbara Walker of Bowland 1819. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by the Walker family 1984

Sir Henry Raeburn Mrs Barbara Walker of Bowland 1819. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by the Walker family 1984

Walker retired in 1812 and, as one biographer puts it, 'fixed himself in his native country, where he lived most happily in the bosom of his amiable family, attending with ardour to the varied pursuits of agriculture, and the improvement of his estates.'10  Two sons, William Stuart and James Scott, were born in 1813 and 1814. In these years, too, Bowland House was reworked by architect James Gillespie Graham in splendid Tudor Gothic revival style. Alexander and Barbara Walker's portraits were probably painted in 1819.11  The commission was likely arranged through Barbara's connections: Raeburn also painted her brother, Sir James Montgomery, second baronet of Stanhope; her sister-in-law, Helen Graham, Lady Montgomery; and her sister Margaret, with her husband Robert Campbell of Kailzie. Barbara's mother, Margaret Scott, had been painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Her father Sir James Montgomery, who was Lord Advocate from 1766, an MP and Chief Baron of the Scottish Exchequer from 1775 to 1781, had been painted by several artists.

Sanderson Stationer, Stow Bowland, Stow c.1908. Chromolithographic postcard. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery library archives

Sanderson Stationer, Stow Bowland, Stow c.1908. Chromolithographic postcard. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery library archives

Sir James's obituary, in 1803, noted that Barbara 'had devoted herself to attendance upon the declining years of her father, in preference to the formations of other connections'.12 Her marriage eight years later, at the age of forty-one, must then have been unexpected, as would have been the births of her two sons. Her recently cleaned and conserved portrait is fresh testimony to the power of Raeburn's art. Like Alexander's, her watchful gaze is both direct and reticent. A spectacularly well painted gold chain adorns pale shoulders and a stately bust, from which silvery fabric tumbles in fashionable Regency lines.

Bowland House, with its many Indian curiosities, 'notably of representatives of the Hindoo pantheon',13 was an ideal setting for Walker to work on his various Indian histories, and his accounts of Indian customs and beliefs. He also revisited his concerns about Britain's role in India, adding to the thoughts he had penned in 1811 during his passage home.14  Noting then that the East India Company, with its 200,000 men, was £30 million in debt, he reflected that British power in India was 'maintained at the expense of the parent state... guaranteed not only by the blood but the treasure of England'.15  In a private correspondence from 1817 to 1819 he built a compelling case for 'an unusual and unpopular expedient. A proposal to contract the bounds of our territories, and to relinquish the fruits of conquest...'16  Although opening the argument with fiscal concerns, Walker's proposal for radical reform broadened as he acknowledged a deep-rooted hostility and degrading dependence among the subjugated Indian populace: 'We have left wounds in every quarter, and produced everywhere discontent: the confidence which was once reposed in our moderation and justice is gone. We have made use of treaties, contracted solely for protection, as the means of making violent demands... Every individual almost above the common artizan and labourer suffers by our system of government.'17

Son & Co. London St Helena 1829. Engraving. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery library archives

Son & Co. London St Helena 1829. Engraving. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery library archives

In 1822 Walker was coaxed from retirement to become governor of St Helena, then still under East India Company rule. Arriving on the island as a brigadier-general on 11 March 1823, almost two years after Napoleon's death there in exile, he lived at Plantation House, the governor's residence, perched high on a hill above the capital of Jamestown. There he remained active, 'promoting schools and libraries, improving the agriculture and horticulture of the island, by the formation of societies, the abolition of slavery, and the amelioration of the lower classes'.18 The phased emancipation of the island's slaves occurred between 1827 and 1832 (slavery was abolished in British colonies in 1833). He also continued with his writing, including revisions to his North American manuscript. Failing health, however, brought on by an apoplexy from which he never fully recovered, meant a return to Bowland in 1828; Walker died in Scotland on 5 March 1831. Barbara died the same year.19  Alexander's full correspondence on British rule in India was published in the House of Commons papers in 1832. Its incisive contents, if heeded, would have changed history.

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Elizabeth Kelly (née Abbott) made this sculptural portrait bust while at the Canterbury College School of Art, where she studied from 1891–1901. She won regular prizes for her modelling from life, including at the 1906–07 Christchurch International Exhibition. Kelly later became one of New Zealand’s leading society portrait painters, in the 1930s showing her work in exhibitions in London, Edinburgh and Paris. Laura was modelled on the artist’s younger sister, Laura Maude Cox (née Abbott, 1884–1957). One of the earliest sculptures in the collection by a New Zealand born artist, it is a recent gift to the city from Margaret Abbott, a great-niece of the two sisters. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
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The Rotterdam-born Petrus van der Velden arrived in New Zealand in 1890. Following his first visit to Otira Gorge in January 1891, he became engrossed with this subject, and painted its powerful, surging torrents many times over the next two years. This painting was purchased by Gilbert Anderson, a leader in New Zealand’s frozen meat industry, also involved with the Canterbury Society of Arts. Anderson sold it to the Society in 1912; it was purchased from them in 1996 through the Community Trust and Christchurch Art Gallery Trust. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
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As well as being enjoyed for their superb decorative qualities, Dutch still life paintings were intended to be reminders of the beauty, brevity and fragility of life. An arrangement of tulips, anemone, nicotiana, jonquils, morning glory and oriental poppies, this work is attributed to the Antwerp-born Flemish painter Pieter Hardimé, who lived at The Hague from 1697. The painting arrived from Windsor, England as an unexpected and welcome gift, shortly after the 2011 earthquakes. It was given in memory of Kathleen Muriel Whiteley (1904–1949), who had historical family ties to Christchurch, from the estate of her husband Albert, whom she married two years before her death in 1949. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
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Charles Frederick Goldie Ina te Papatahi, A Ngāpuhi Chieftainess
Ina Te Papatahi lived in Auckland at the Waipapa Māori hostel in Mechanic’s Bay, a short walk from Charles Goldie’s Hobson Street studio. She became one of his favourite models, and evidently introduced him to other important sitters. Goldie sent this portrait to show at the Canterbury Society of Arts annual exhibition in 1903, where it was purchased by the local construction company manager and art collector James Jamieson. Following Jamieson’s death in 1927, this portrait and many other paintings from his collection were presented to become part of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery's founding collection. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Pleasure Garden
Frances Hodgkins Pleasure Garden
.This work was painted during a sketching trip to Bridgnorth, Shropshire in the summer of 1932. Its lively watercolour style and subject matter express Hodgkins’s characteristic interest in capturing the fleeting sensations of a moment. Following her death in England, Pleasure Garden was one of six works by Hodgkins brought to Christchurch in 1948 at the request of the Canterbury Society of Arts. When the Society’s purchasing committee rejected the selection, a group of independent art supporters raised the purchase price and offered it to the city’s gallery, whose refusal generated metres of newspaper column displeasure and debate. In 1951 their persistence finally paid off. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Glasgerion
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The Manchester-born painter and illustrator George Sheridan Knowles specialised in romantic history pieces and genre scenes. This work – exhibited at the Royal Academy, London in 1897 – was based on a tragic medieval ballad, in which Glasgerion, a king ’s son, has cast his troubadour spell over the court of the King of Normandy, in pursuit of his fair daughter. The story doesn’t end well. This was one of six paintings imported from England to Christchurch by the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1903 for consideration to purchase; its acquisition was generously funded by the businessman and politician John T. Peacock (1827–1905). Glasgerion was presented to the city’s new gallery in 1932. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
In The Wizard’s Garden
George Leslie In The Wizard’s Garden
George Dunlop Leslie was a successful, prolific artist who exhibited annually at the Royal Academy from 1859; usually theatrical, symbol-laden paintings of young women from a previous age. In the Wizard’s Garden was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1904. Attending the opening was Wolf Harris (1833–1926), a Kraków-born, London-based Jewish businessman recorded by The Times as, ‘a great friend of many of the artists’, who had established a hugely successful importing and manufacturing company in New Zealand during the 1850s Otago gold rushes. When Leslie lent this painting for the 1906–07 New Zealand International Exhibition, Wolf Harris purchased it for the Canterbury Society of Arts; it was given to the city in 1932. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Study (Woman in a Wide Black Hat)
Raymond McIntyre Study (Woman in a Wide Black Hat)
Arriving in London in 1909, the Christchurch-born and trained Raymond McIntyre soon gained a reputation there for his small, pared-back landscapes and studies of female heads, painted in an elegant, simplified, Japanese woodblock inspired style. This painting was modelled on an actor and dancer who became his principal muse from 1912, sometimes mentioned in his letters home: “The girl who is sitting for me a lot now, Sylvia Constance Cavendish… has a very refined interesting pale face… I have done some very good work from her… she is quite a find.” McIntyre died in London in 1933. Seven of his works were given by his family between 1938 and 1991. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
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The Colosseum, Rome
Artist Unknown The Colosseum, Rome
The quality and portable scale of this fine Roman 'veduta' (a detailed depiction of a cityscape or vista) suggest it was originally intended as a wealthy eighteenth-century traveller’s Grand Tour souvenir. It is understood to have been purchased in Budapest in the 1950s by Eugène Lestocquoy, a French diplomat who relocated to Wellington after the 1956 Hungarian uprising; he presented it to a neighbourhood friend before his return to France in 1960. The painting was purchased in 1971 for the collection through the Ballantyne bequest, formed from an insurance settlement from the estate of William Ballantyne (1864–1934), whose art collection was largely destroyed in the 1947 Ballantyne's department store fire. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
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La Lecture de la Bible
Henriette Browne La Lecture de la Bible
A painter of religious and Orientalist themes, Sophie de Bouteiller was better known by the pseudonym Henriette Browne, under which name she exhibited this work at the Paris Salon (as Les Puritaines) in 1857. It was purchased there by Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoléon III; they lived with this painting while in lasting exile in England after the Emperor’s crushing defeat to Prussia in 1870. Following Eugénie’s death in 1920 it was sold at Christie’s, London and went to a Sydney art dealer. After being shown in Dunedin at the 1925–26 New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, it was purchased by Robert E. McDougall, donor of Christchurch’s first public gallery, and became part of his extraordinary civic gift. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016) First exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1857 with the title 'Les Puritaines', this painting has for many years also been known as 'La Lecture de la Bible'.
Collection
King Tawhiao Potatau Te Wherowhero
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The Vienna-trained, Bohemian-born artist Gottfried Lindauer arrived in New Zealand in 1874. He based this portrait of Tūkaroto Matutaera Pōtatau Te Wherowhero Tawhiao (c. 1825–1894), the second Māori king, on an 1884 portrait by Sydney photographer Henry King. Tawhiao visited King ’s studio while en route to England in pursuit of recognition from Queen Victoria of the Treaty of Waitangi and reparation of confiscated Māori land. Tawhiao’s portrait was given to the Gallery in 1964 by Lindauer’s nephew, Archibald H. Anthony (1881–1970), in honour of his wife Harriet Grace (d. 1961). Anthony was a retired Christchurch lawyer who also gave his large property on the Cashmere hills to become a Hohepa Home for children with disabilities. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Ruth
Raymond McIntyre Ruth
Arriving in London in 1909, the Christchurch-born and trained Raymond McIntyre soon gained a reputation there for his small, pared-back landscapes and studies of female heads, painted in an elegant, simplified, Japanese woodblock inspired style. This painting was modelled on an actor and dancer who became his principal muse from 1912, sometimes mentioned in his letters home: “The girl who is sitting for me a lot now, Sylvia Constance Cavendish… has a very refined interesting pale face… I have done some very good work from her… she is quite a find.” McIntyre died in London in 1933. Seven of his works were given by his family between 1938 and 1991. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Cynthia’s Birthday
Harry Linley Richardson Cynthia’s Birthday
Harry Linley Richardson was brought out to New Zealand from London in 1908 to become an art instructor at the Wellington Technical School. His design background led to New Zealand postage stamp design commissions and he became well-known for his paintings, predominantly of children and Māori subjects. Cynthia’s Birthday, based on his own children, was exhibited in Auckland and Wellington in 1927 and Christchurch in 1928, and purchased by the Canterbury Society of Arts with funding support from the city council. One of the first paintings to be bought for the city’s intended new public art gallery, it was presented by the Society in 1932. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Relaxation
Thomas Benjamin Kennington Relaxation
Thomas Benjamin Kennington’s focus as an artist was in the sympathetic depiction of the everyday reality of the poor and working classes. Born in Great Grimsby, a seaport town in England’s northeast, he studied art in Liverpool, London and Paris, and from 1880 exhibited annually at the Royal Academy, where this naturalistic workroom scene was shown in 1908. Relaxation was exhibited at the 1911 International Exposition of Art in Rome and at the 1913 New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts exhibiton in Wellington. By 1920 it was in the hands of newspaper proprietor Robert Bell. Bell was president of the Canterbury Society of Arts from 1925–26, and bequeathed ten paintings to the gallery. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Teresina
Lord Frederic Leighton Teresina
The name Teresina appears in a notebook list of models sketched by Frederic Leighton during an 1874 stay in Rome. Italy was his second home; he spent much of his childhood and later studied there, and he habitually relocated there from London each autumn. Leighton showed Teresina at the Royal Academy in London in 1876. After being in private ownership for thirty years, the painting was sent to Christchurch for the 1906–07 New Zealand International Exhibition, joining the largest collection of British art shown at a Colonial exhibition. Purchased there by the Canterbury Society of Arts, Teresina was presented to the city's new public art gallery in 1932. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Ana Reupene Whetuki and Child
Gottfried Lindauer Ana Reupene Whetuki and Child
Ana Reupene Whetuki was a well-known face in the 1870s Coromandel goldfield town of Thames, and has many descendants. Gottfried Lindauer's portrait is based on a photograph by the Foy Brothers of Thames. Lindauer visited Thames not long after his arrival in New Zealand from Bohemia (present day Czech Republic) in 1874. This 1880 portrait was given to the city's new gallery in 1936 by the family of the Jewish, German-born Bernhard H Ballin (1848-1931) and his wife Clara. Ballin and two brothers were cordial manufacturers in Thames from 1872 until 1878, when he relocated to Christchurch to establish his aerated water company. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
A Hot Day. Wiremu Pātara Te Tuhi, Ngāti Mahuta
Charles Frederick Goldie A Hot Day. Wiremu Pātara Te Tuhi, Ngāti Mahuta
Pātara Te Tuhi was a leader in the Māori King Movement, including as a newspaper publisher and as secretary to his cousin King Tāwhiao; travelling with him to England in 1884 to seek Queen Victoria’s recognition of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi signed on her behalf. Charles Goldie was introduced to Pātara by the writer James Cowan, as were the Christchurch public when Cowan’s comprehensive biographical interview with the Tainui chief appeared in The Star in February 1902. Seven weeks later Pātara’s portrait was shown in the Canterbury Society of Arts’ annual exhibition and purchased for the collection. The portrait was presented to the city’s new gallery in 1932. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
A Reading from Plato
Gertrude Demain Hammond A Reading from Plato
Gertrude Demain Hammond was a prolific London illustrator who was also active in exhibiting her watercolours. A Reading from Plato was shown at the Royal Academy in London in 1903 before coming to Christchurch for the 1906–07 New Zealand International Exhibition. There it was purchased by the avid local art collector James Jamieson, who with his brother William, ran one of the city’s largest construction companies. Following his death in 1927, James’s family presented many works of art from his collection to become part of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery’s founding collection, which at its opening in 1932 consisted of 160 paintings and sculptures. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Cottage Interior with Kitchen Maid
Gabriel Metsu, Artist Unknown Cottage Interior with Kitchen Maid
The artist for this early Dutch domestic scene is not identified, but it suggests the influence of Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667), a student of Gerrit Dou, whose painting The Physician is also in the Gallery's collection. The scene celebrates the established ideals of seventeenth-century Dutch housekeeping, with ingredients waiting and pans and utensils shining clean; everything carefully prepared and in order. This painting entered the collection as a gift (along with twelve engravings by William Hogarth) from the estate of Frederick James Oakley, an English dental surgeon who moved to Christchurch with his wife in 1953 and died here three years later. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Nathaniel Webb, Esq., of Roundhill Grange, Charlton Musgrove, Somerset
Artist Unknown Nathaniel Webb, Esq., of Roundhill Grange, Charlton Musgrove, Somerset
Nathaniel Webb, the subject of this striking 300-year-old portrait, was a Bristol merchant who – like many of his peers in this period – is known to have made a vast fortune through West Indies sugar and slavery. Webb’s portrait was donated in 2007 by a direct descendant, in honour of her father John Jekyll Cuddon, a respected Christchurch lawyer. The painting came to New Zealand with Henry Joseph C. Jekyll, who immigrated to Canterbury in 1862, and in 1880 purchased a large parcel of farmland beyond the edges of Christchurch, naming it Dallington after an old family estate. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Scene in a Tavern
Matthijs Naiveu Scene in a Tavern
Matthijs Naiveu studied under the leading seventeenth century Dutch painter Gerrit Dou (painter of The Physician). Naiveu’s tavern scene presents a moral lesson: the child implores his mother and a man who may be his father to put their intoxication aside, and give him a better chance in life. This is one of many works presented to the Gallery by the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1932. It was bequeathed to the society by Scottish-born Major Archibald C. D. Spencer (1861–1929). Major Spencer retired from service with the Royal Irish Rifles in South Africa, Canada and Malta and settled at Mount Peel in South Canterbury.
Collection
The Physician
Gerrit Dou The Physician
Gerrit Dou, a leading figure in Dutch painting ’s Golden Age, was Rembrandt’s first pupil for three years from the age of fourteen in 1628. Before long, he had eclipsed his master’s reputation; his meticulous, highly detailed paintings were prized by the wealthiest collectors. The Physician’s earliest documented owner is Somerset- born Henry Francis Gray, who reached Port Lyttelton aged eighteen in 1856 and went into farming in Canterbury. 25 years later, Gray was commended in local newspapers for lending this treasure for the Canterbury Society of Arts’ first exhibition in 1881. Passing through family lines, it was bequeathed to the Gallery in 1965 by his great-nephew, the prominent Christchurch architect Heathcote Helmore. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Girl with a Mask
William Powell Frith Girl with a Mask
Girl with a Mask is an early work by the Yorkshire-born William Frith, who became one of the most popular Victorian artists, best-known for his densely populated scenes of contemporary English life. The purchase of this painting was enabled by Olive Stirrat (1900–1982), a Gallery Friends life member whose $90,000 bequest became the largest single gift after Robert McDougall’s presentation of the original gallery itself. Between 1983 and 2008 the endowment supported the purchase of 72 historical works by artists including: Francisco de Goya, Charles Meryon, Odilon Redon, Petrus van der Velden, Margaret Stoddart, Raymond McIntyre, Käthe Kollwitz, Claude Flight, Frances Hodgkins and Rita Angus. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
The Black Hat
George Henry The Black Hat
In about 1901, having established a strong reputation with his painting in Scotland, the Glasgow-based George Henry relocated to London, where he began to establish a successful society portrait practice. The Black Hat – possibly the work exhibited to acclaim as ‘La dame au chapeau noir’ at the Royal Glasgow Institute in 1904 – was one of twelve paintings selected in 1911 by the English artist Niels Lund to be purchased for the Canterbury Society of Arts. Its acquisition in 1912 was enabled through a newly agreed £50 annual subsidy from the Christchurch City Council; the society presented the painting to the city's new public gallery in 1932. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
A Wooded Landscape with Peasants on a Path and an Angler at a Stream
Meindert Hobbema A Wooded Landscape with Peasants on a Path and an Angler at a Stream
Although little recognised in his own lifetime, the Amsterdam-based Meindert Hobbema is now celebrated as one of the greatest landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Hobbema’s exclusive focus on countryside relates to the extraordinary growth of Dutch cities and towns in this period, and a newfound interest in idealised depictions of rural life. This exquisite landscape painting came to New Zealand after being purchased at auction in London in 1908 by the Dunedin-trained architect and art teacher David Edward Hutton (1866–1946). Its acquisition for the collection was enabled through funds generously bequeathed by his daughter Kathleen Stuart Hutton (1903–1992). (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
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Unshatterable (Belgian Refugees)
Frances Hodgkins Unshatterable (Belgian Refugees)
The Dunedin-born Frances Hodgkins was running her own watercolour painting school in Paris when World War I broke out in 1914. She relocated to St. Ives in Cornwall, where she found many displaced Belgian families also living, and painted this work in response to their wretched plight. Unshatterable, one of her first oil paintings, was exhibited in London in 1916 and purchased by the painter Sir Cedric Morris. Dr Rodney Wilson, the Gallery’s director in 1980, visited Morris, and with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund, a British art charity, successfully secured this work for the Christchurch collection. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Bacchus and Ariadne
Jacopo Amigoni Bacchus and Ariadne
Bacchus, the god of wine, leans in drunken stupor against Ariadne, the Cretan princess who became his immortal bride; here warning the cherubs not to awaken him. The Naples-born Jacopo Amigoni specialised in classical scenes in a decorative Venetian rococo style. Bacchus and Ariadne was likely painted during his time in London in the 1730s. This painting was given in memory of its former owner Kenelm Neave, an eminent local solicitor who died tragically in 1931. He was the great-great grandson of the London merchant and Governor of the Bank of England Sir Richard Neave (1731–1814), who laid the foundations of a vast family fortune through West Indies sugar plantations. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
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Mrs Barbara Walker of Bowland
Sir Henry Raeburn Mrs Barbara Walker of Bowland
The 55-year-old Alexander Walker (1764–1831) and his wife Barbara (née Montgomery, 1770–1831) commissioned Scotland’s leading portraitist, Henry Raeburn, to paint their portraits in 1819. They had married eight years earlier; shortly after Alexander’s retirement from over thirty years’ service with the East India Company – mostly in India – and had two young sons. Alexander had one final Company role before him, that of Governor of St. Helena from 1823–28. Two of their grandsons, William Campbell Walker and Alexander John Walker, immigrated to New Zealand in 1862 to farm in Canterbury; William later became Minister of Education. These impressive ancestral portraits were presented by descendants in 1984. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Dante’s Beatrice
U Biagini Dante’s Beatrice
Previously attributed to the Rome-based sculptor Alfredo Biagini, Dante’s Beatrice is now recognised as the work of a lesser-known but nevertheless highly accomplished artist U. Biagini working in Florence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Representing Beatrice, who captured the heart of the thirteenth-century Italian poet Dante Alighieri, it is a fine example of the Florentine sculptor’s idealised marble busts. Dante’s Beatrice was given to the city through the bequest of the retired Christchurch merchant and importer John Alexander Redpath (1875–1975). (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Psyche
Auguste Rodin Psyche
Psyche, in Greek mythology, was a mortal princess whose beauty attracted the attention of Eros, the god of love, and the jealous anger of his mother Aphrodite. The renowned Parisian sculptor Auguste Rodin worked on variations on the theme of Psyche between 1886 and 1905. This bronze is a later casting, produced by the Musée Rodin at a foundry in Paris in 1961. Psyche was purchased by the New Zealand Government in 1962 through a fund established to strengthen learning and cultural relations between New Zealand and France. After being exhibited in Christchurch in 1963, this city became the sculpture’s permanent home. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Roses, Honeysuckle and other flowers in a sculpted vase
Jan Frans van Son Roses, Honeysuckle and other flowers in a sculpted vase
The Antwerp-born painter Jan Frans van Son was the son of the leading Flemish still life painter Joris van Son. He built a reputation with his own still life paintings in London, finding profitable patronage in England through his marriage to a niece of Robert Streater, sergeant-painter to Charles II. The purchase of this work in London in 1973 was instigated by the Ngāpuhi art historian Jonathan Mane-Wheoki during his studies at the Courtauld Institute. It was funded by the National Art Collections Fund, a British art charity that supported purchases for galleries in this country for a reasonable period – for Christchurch as late as 1994. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Soldiers in a Village
Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot Soldiers in a Village
Joost Droochsloot’s Soldiers in a Village lays out the enduring theme of the upheavals of war, with families being ejected from their homes by roving soldiers in a Dutch village in the 1640s; an ordeal commonly experienced during the Thirty Years’ War in central Europe (1618–48). This painting was once owned by the Scottish-born, former Wellington art dealer McGregor Wright, a mayor of Woolston between 1910 and 1921 and a prominent local art supporter. Wright presented the painting to the Christchurch Technical Institute (later Christchurch Polytechnic) in 1935. In 1996 it was purchased for the collection by Gallery patrons Gabrielle and Adriaan Tasman, who also sponsored its conservation and repair. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
The Age of innocence
Alfred Drury The Age of innocence
Modelled by Alfred Drury after a friend’s daughter in fancy dress, this wistful bronze bust is one of many variations of The Age of Innocence he made between 1897 and 1918; some in white marble. It is regarded as an important work in the British New Sculpture movement, whose followers sought either greater naturalism or symbolic qualities than had been found in the prevailing neoclassical approach. Brought from England to Christchurch for the 1906–07 New Zealand International Exhibition, it was purchased by the Canterbury Society of Arts, and presented to the city in 1932 to become part of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery’s founding collection. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Suzette
Raymond McIntyre Suzette
Arriving in London in 1909, the Christchurch-born and trained Raymond McIntyre soon gained a reputation there for his small, pared-back landscapes and studies of female heads, painted in an elegant, simplified, Japanese woodblock inspired style. These three paintings were modelled on an actor and dancer who became his principal muse from 1912, sometimes mentioned in his letters home: “The girl who is sitting for me a lot now, Sylvia Constance Cavendish… has a very refined interesting pale face… I have done some very good work from her… she is quite a find.” McIntyre died in London in 1933. Seven of his works were given by his family between 1938 and 1991. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Brigadier-General Alexander Walker of Bowland
Sir Henry Raeburn Brigadier-General Alexander Walker of Bowland
The 55-year-old Alexander Walker (1764–1831) and his wife Barbara (née Montgomery, 1770–1831) commissioned Scotland’s leading portraitist, Henry Raeburn, to paint their portraits in 1819. They had married eight years earlier; shortly after Alexander’s retirement from over thirty years’ service with the East India Company – mostly in India – and had two young sons. Alexander had one final Company role before him, that of Governor of St. Helena from 1823–28. Two of their grandsons, William Campbell Walker and Alexander John Walker, immigrated to New Zealand in 1862 to farm in Canterbury; William later became Minister of Education. These impressive ancestral portraits were presented by descendants in 1984. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
A View in Cologne with St. Gereon's Basilica
Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde A View in Cologne with St. Gereon's Basilica
Gerrit Berckheyde’s contribution to the Dutch Golden Age of painting was as an exponent of the cityscape, which became a new genre from the mid seventeenth-century. Berckheyde was Haarlem-based, and began producing paintings of Cologne in about 1670, from sketches made in the 1650s. He painted a series of works depicting St. Gereon’s Basilica, a large and distinctive Romanesque style church completed in the thirteenth century. This painting was purchased through a significant bequest made in 1953 from an insurance settlement from the estate of William Ballantyne (1864–1934), whose art collection had been largely destroyed in the 1947 Ballantyne’s department store fire. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Collection
Panier de Raisins
Henri Fantin-Latour Panier de Raisins
Henri Fantin-Latour’s Panier de Raisins (Basket of Grapes) evokes the pleasure and abundance of the French country- side in midsummer and is recognised as one of the most significant European works in the collection. Panier de Raisins arrived unexpectedly through the bequest of Frank White (1910–2001), a Hororata sheep and cattle farmer and arborist who came to New Zealand from England in 1927 to study farming at Canterbury Agricultural College (now Lincoln University). White served in North Africa and the Mediterranean during World War II and never married. He left 12 paintings to the Gallery and also generously left his farm to Lincoln University for training purposes. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Notes
Belgian Refugees by Frances Hodgkins

Belgian Refugees by Frances Hodgkins

This article first appeared in The Press on 28 February 2007

Belgian Refugees is one of the first oil paintings that Frances Hodgkins ever exhibited, although at the time she was already well accustomed to showing her watercolours. Working in oils and tempera on canvas, she used an experimental technique in this work that gained much from her experience with watercolour. Believed to have been first shown as Unshatterable, in October 1916 at the International Society's Autumn Exhibition in London, the choice of title would suggest a greater sense of resilience than is actually conveyed by this family group. Here only the baby is oblivious to trouble, while his nursing mother seems devoid of expression, and the older children tense with anxiety or fear. Behind the group, a gap in the swirling grey suggests the fact of a missing father, and this steam and smoke speaks of displacement, the atmospheric backdrop of a train station or the symbolic clouds of war. Within the wall of monochrome, intense colour is reserved for mother and child, who also remind of one of Hodgkins' favourite early choices of subject matter in watercolour.