Owen Merton

Aotearoa New Zealand / England / United States, b.1887, d.1931

Farm Scene

  • 1909
  • Watercolour
  • Donated from the Canterbury Public Library Collection, 2001
  • 2002/184

Christchurch-born Owen Merton was very young when he made his mark as an artist. This subtle, enamel-like study is a fine example of the glowing watercolour paintings that won him early acclaim both here and abroad. He was 16 when he started training with selected classes at Canterbury College School of Art in 1903. He left for further studies in London two years later, and when he returned to New Zealand in 1907 local commentators identified him as an outstanding talent and noted the hints of Whistler and Frank Brangwyn in his work.

Merton held successful solo shows in Wellington and Christchurch before returning to Britain in 1909. The following year, he met Raymond McIntyre, worked at St Ives in Cornwall, studied under Frances Hodgkins at Concarneau, was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists and by October had a studio in Paris. His later years were marred by the death of his American artist wife, Ruth Jenkins, in 1921. He was only 44 when he died in 1931.

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

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Nature's Own Voice' 6 February - August 2009

    Owen Merton worked predominantly in watercolours, often outdoors. This work has many qualities that suggest it was made plein-air, and has been completed quickly with very fluid wet washes of colour. Merton’s primary interest is in conveying his immediate impressions of the scene rather than accurately depicting the landscape. Merton studied under several plein-air painters throughout his career including Alfred Walsh, Frances Hodgkins and Percyval Tudor-Hart.

    (Nature's Own Voice 6 February - August 2009)