William Watkins

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1835, d.1904

Akaroa Harbour

This view of Akaroa harbour, on Banks Peninsula, looks down across Barry's Bay, 14 kilometres north-west of the town of Akaroa. In the centre of the painting is the Onawe Peninsula, which was once the site of a pa, or fortification, belonging to local Ngai Tahu Maori. William Watkins began his career as an amateur artist and many of his earlier paintings have a naïve quality about them. However this work is more realistic and accurate in its depiction of the landscape. It dates from after the time Watkins spent studying at the Victorian Academy of Fine Arts in Melbourne. Watkins was born in London and came to New Zealand with his family in 1850 as Canterbury Association settlers. They lived in Akaroa and Watkins became the first resident photographer living in the town. In 1876 he went to Melbourne to study. From then he exhibited regularly in Australia and New Zealand, including in the International Exhibition in Christchurch in 1882 where he was awarded a silver medal.

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