Elizabeth Kelly

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1877, d.1946

Self Portrait

  • c. 1909
  • Watercolour
  • Purchased 2021
  • 459 x 383mm
  • 2021/011

Christchurch artist Annie Elizabeth Kelly was one of the earliest professional artists to establish themselves in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the first New Zealand woman to be awarded a CBE for services to art.

Kelly painted this early self-portrait when she was forging a career as a portrait painter. She had just moved into her first studio at 218 Hereford Street in the central city.

Painted from reflection, Kelly’s direct gaze is confident, painted loosely in an impressionistic style but with sharp, idealised facial features, showing the influence of the Aesthetic movement from her studies at the Canterbury College School of Art. Painting herself in a traditional European bonnet and using muted brown colours suggestive of the old masters, a fashionable style influenced by Petrus Van der Velden, this painting advertised her skills as she made her debut as a portrait artist.

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