Louise Henderson

France / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1902, d.1994


  • Dame Louise Henderson Collection, presented by the McKegg Family, 1999
  • Oil on canvas
  • 2535 x 1535mm
  • 99/79
  • 1987

Louise Sauze (1902–1994) was born in Paris, to a family entwined with art and culture, but her parents denied her an artistic career, despite her early talent. Instead, she married a New Zealander, Hubert Henderson, and arrived in Christchurch in 1925, where she set her own plans in motion. After studying at the Canterbury College School of Art and teaching embroidery and design there, she began to exhibit paintings with The Group, an informal and influential association of artists. Relishing her freedom, she left the city whenever possible to explore and paint in the South Island hill country, often sleeping out alone under the stars. After moving north, Henderson studied with the New Zealand painter John Weeks, developing a more abstracted style. She returned to Europe to study, spending 1952 in Paris, where she consolidated a cubist-influenced approach incorporating tightly organised forms, tilted planes and multiple viewpoints. To Henderson, security meant compromise and her style continually evolved, encompassing a wide range of subjects over her long career. In 1987, aged eighty-five, she completed twelve large canvases, one for each month of the year. Filtering close observations of natural and industrial scenes through a modernist aesthetic, the series was a fearless and profound statement of connection with her adopted land. In June and July, colour, form and movement are skilfully balanced to evoke rain-laden clouds, drenched fields and boisterous winter winds.

(A room of one's own, 18 December 2015 – 29 May 2016)

Read more about Louise Henderson's Months series