Harry Linley Richardson

Aotearoa New Zealand / British, b.1878, d.1947

Cynthia’s Birthday

  • Presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts, 1932
  • Oil on canvas
  • 775 x 1380mm
  • 69/106
  • 1926-1927

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)

earlier labels about this work
  • H. Linley Richardson frequently used his family as subjects, particularly his youngest daughter, Cynthia, whose birthday on 4 December 1926 is here being celebrated. Richardson preferred to paint directly from life, so the children would have had to sit still for their father as he worked at his easel. This may account for the stiffness of their pose. Portraits and figure studies were a major part of Richardson’s output and his style has the clear sharp clarity and emphasis of form associated with his interest in design work.

    Born in London, Richardson studied as a graphic artist but found his interests lay more with painting. After studying in London and Paris, in 1900 he began exhibiting at the Royal Academy. Richardson arrived in Wellington in 1908 to take up position as Assistant Art Instructor at Wellington Technical School and began exhibiting at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. He lived in New Zealand for the rest of his life.

    There is more information about this work in page 2 of Bulletin No. 5, September/October 1979.