Sir William Fox

Aotearoa New Zealand / British, b.1812, d.1893

Mt Cook & Francis Joseph (Franz Josef) Glacier, New Zealand, from Freshwater Creek about 40 miles

This stunning watercolour of mighty Aoraki / Mount Cook rising up beyond Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere / Franz Josef Glacier was made while Te Tai Poutini / the West Coast was still part of the Canterbury Province. (The West Coast became its own province in 1873.) William Fox, who by this stage was Aotearoa New Zealand’s Premier, made a brief trip to South Westland in 1872 where he completed a number of studies of Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, the latter being named after him in the same year. Both Te Moeka o Tuawe / Fox Glacier and Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere had their original Māori names officially returned to them as part of the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act in 1998. Te Tai Poutini has long been treasured for its natural resources of pounamu, gold and coal. More recently the natural beauty of the region has made it an international tourist destination.

(Pickaxes and shovels, 17 February – 5 August 2018)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • This is South Westland on the South Island’s West Coast. The glacier, located in Westland National Park, had been named after Emperor Franz Josef of Austria. William Fox painted a number of scenes of this subject during a trip to the area while he was in his third term as New Zealand Prime Minister. Fox trained as a lawyer and he is unlikely to have had any formal art training. However, as a surveyor he would have needed to be able to make sketches of the new lands. This scene has been depicted with the carefully controlled watercolour washes typical of his topographical work. Born in Durham, England, Fox studied law in London. He married Sarah Halcomb in 1842, the same year they emigrated from England to Wellington, New Zealand. As an early artist-surveyor and resident agent for the New Zealand Company Fox explored many of the country’s remote areas. He also took an active role in New Zealand politics.

    (Label date unknown)