Robert Herdman-Smith

England / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1879, d.1948

The sweep

  • c. 1911
  • Oil on canvas
  • Purchased, 2000
  • 1273 x 1731mm
  • 2000/213

Liverpool-born Robert Herdman-Smith arrived in Christchurch in 1906 as the new young director of the city’s Canterbury College School of Art, with credentials that included training in Leeds, London, Paris, Antwerp and Munich; prizes and medals; and teaching experience in Antwerp, Leeds, Bath and Wellington. A practitioner with broad interests, he exhibited his paintings regularly throughout New Zealand, and became a strong advocate for applied art and design. Immediately on arriving in Christchurch, he established a Guild of Arts and Crafts that attracted many former art school students. For the 1906–07 Christchurch International Exhibition, guild members created a prize-winning display showcasing, as he reported, “the combined effort of the design, painters and decorators, cabinetmaking, carpentry, wood-carving, and repoussé classes.” Despite his major impact on the Canterbury College School of Art, Herdman-Smith was discharged in 1917, evidently for continually oversubscribing classes. He left New Zealand two years later, heading for the Newlyn artists’ colony in Cornwall, though he continued to exhibit in New Zealand.

(The Moon and the Manor House, 12 November 2021 – 1 May 2022)

Exhibition History