Louise Henderson

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


  • 1987
  • Oil on canvas
  • Dame Louise Henderson Collection presented by the McKegg Family, 1999
  • 2535 x 1535mm
  • 99/80

At a time in her career when many might have expected her to slow down or even retire, French-born Louise Henderson embarked upon one of her most ambitious creative projects. The Twelve Months distilled her impressions of her life in Aotearoa New Zealand into a dozen tall canvases, filtering the rhythms of the year through her ‘abstract poetic of nature’. Borrowing their proportions from the elegant ‘double square’ of her studio windows, they combined two important aspects of her practice: the all-seeing viewpoints and organisational principles of cubism and the ability to use colour to evoke both form and atmosphere. Often inspired by the view through her window, Henderson manipulated a complex set of variables, considering how the seasons affected the weather and landscape, the changing light and position of the sun, and the fluctuating activities, rituals and moods of people in both the city and the countryside.

Read more about Louise Henderson's Months series

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Louise Henderson was born in France, but came to Christchurch with her New Zealand husband in 1925. She relished the freedom of her new life, exploring in and painting the South Island hill country and often sleeping out alone under the stars. After moving north, Henderson’s style became more abstract but the natural world remained an important inspiration. In 1987, aged eighty-five, she completed a dozen towering canvases, The Twelve Months. Filtering her observations of nature and human activity through a modernist lens, they captured the character of the year’s changing seasons. September hums with the fresh vitality of spring, as green shoots burst out of the ground under a pale blue sky.

    (We do this, 12 May 2018 - 26 May 2019)