Jenny Wimperis

Aotearoa New Zealand / England, b.1844, d.1929

Untitled (New Zealand Bush)

  • 1883
  • Watercolour
  • Christchurch Art Gallery Foundation Collection, purchased 1996
  • 690 x 915 x 45mm
  • L86/85

Jenny Wimperis was one of the few women landscape painters working in Aotearoa New Zealand during the nineteenth century. She was a trained artist from an artistic family and had ambitions to work as a full-time professional painter. Unlike many artists of the time, who liked to imbue the sense of a misty British landscape upon New Zealand, Wimperis focuses on this scraggly piece of indigenous forest with a clarity and directness. She shows the density and untamed nature of the native forest prior to the clearing of great swathes of it by Pākehā settlers for pastoral farming, and with it the destruction of Aotearoa’s native bird habitats.

Ship Nails and Tail Feathers, 10 June – 22 October 2023

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Our Collection: 19th and 20th Century New Zealand Art 3 March 2018 – 3 March 2020

    Jenny Wimperis arrived in Dunedin from England with her sisters Frances and Susanna in 1880. As a trained artist from an artistic family she quickly became involved with the Otago Art Society and Dunedin’s Art Club. Unlike many of her contemporaries, who favoured painting the New Zealand landscape as if it were a misty British landscape, Wimperis focuses on this scraggly piece of indigenous forest with a clarity and directness that is true in its depiction of the New Zealand experience. Wimperis always longed to return to Europe, and by the early 1900s she was back in Britain and Europe sketching. Her style, however, never really developed from her earlier New Zealand work, and she died in England in relative obscurity aged 85.

    (, 2018)

  • The location of this scene is not known but, in contrast to many such paintings of the time, it portrays a realistic, unromanticised view of the New Zealand bush. Jenny Wimperis has recorded the details of the plants with considerable accuracy. Wimperis painted in an academic manner, using a traditional English watercolour method where the work is built up from a number of layered washes of colour from light to dark. Details of the foliage have been added at the end of this process. Born in Chester, England, Wimperis came from an artistic family and studied in Munich and Antwerp. She exhibited landscapes with the Royal Society of Artists, London, 1868 to 1875. Wimperis and her sister, Frances, arrived in Dunedin in 1880, joining another sister, Susanna Joachim, who had married and settled there. Jenny was an active member of the Dunedin art scene during the 1880s, exhibiting regularly with the Otago Art Society as well as other art societies in New Zealand. (Label date unknown)