John Barr Clark Hoyte

Aotearoa New Zealand / British, b.1835, d.1913

Punchbowl Falls

Van der Velden: Otira, 11 - 22 February 2011

Auckland artist John Hoyte made the journey across the Southern Alps via the West Coast Road in the summer of 1874–5. Throughout the intervening 145 years the towering Devils Punchbowl Falls, located near Arthur’s Pass just to the south of Otira Gorge, has remained a popular stop for tourists. Hoyte painted Devils Punchbowl Falls in his studio based on his plein-air sketches and while he conveys the imposing power of the tumbling water accurately, the foreground has been contrived and reinvented to appear much more sedate and picturesque than the actual foot of the falls.

earlier labels about this work
  • Popular with visitors today, the Devil’s Punchbowl waterfall is a short walk through native bush from Arthur’s Pass village in the Southern Alps. John Hoyte visited the Canterbury region in 1874 and developed this studio work from field sketches he made as he travelled to the West Coast. This is a traditional watercolour in the Romantic Realist style. Hoyte rarely painted a place accurately. Rather, for the sake of picturesque effect, he represented features of a landscape to achieve a more ideal result. In this case, the waterfall has been depicted to suggest the imposing power of nature. Hoyte was born in Britain and received his art training there. From around 1855 he lived in the West Indies but with his wife emigrated from there to New Zealand in 1860. He was the Drawing Master at Auckland Grammar School and helped to organise the first exhibition of the Society of Artists in Auckland in 1871. In 1876 Hoyte moved to Dunedin to paint full time but left there in 1879 for New South Wales, Australia. (Opening Gallery hang, May 2003)