Thomas Arthur McCormack

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1883, d.1973


  • Watercolour
  • Donated from the Canterbury Public Library Collection, 2001
  • 2002/181

Thomas A. McCormack painted landscapes and still life paintings throughout his career. He was influenced by the calligraphy styles of Japanese and Chinese art, which it was fashionable to collect during the 1930s, particularly within intellectual circles. Largely self-taught, McCormack’s career developed almost entirely within New Zealand. In Tulips he has worked quickly and precisely in a manner similar to Oriental art and used an economy of line and colour to record the flowers and vase. McCormack was born in Napier and began painting during a period of ill-health at the age of twenty. In 1921 he moved to Wellington and set up a studio. In 1927 he spent eight months in Sydney, studying Australian and European art, but it was the major ‘Chinese Art’ exhibition held in 1937 at the National Museum, Wellington, that had the strongest influence on McCormack. The exhibition confirmed for him his own developing calligraphic style and from then there was little change in his approach. McCormack was awarded an OBE in 1956.