Canterbury Vignette Series: John Gibb

This exhibition is now closed

John Gibb, regarded as New Zealand's major professional marine painter in the 1880s, sketched from nature and later worked from these drawings to create paintings with an intense attention to detail. This exhibition explores 22 of these New Zealand paintings.

Canterbury Vignette Series 2000
From February to August the Gallery will be presenting a series of seven historical 'vignette' exhibitions comprising the work of eight prominent Canterbury artists. Two of these artists worked in the nineteenth century and two during the early years of the twentieth century. Each exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated publication that profiles the artist and their works selected for the Vignette.

To open the Vignette Series two exhibitions will run almost concurrently. They feature the work of the marine painter John Gibb and the plein air watercolourist Alfred Walsh.

When the painter John Gibb arrived in Christchurch from Scotland, in 1876, he had already more than quarter of a century's activity in Britain as an artist and exhibitor. Early in his life, Gibb had shown a natural aptitude for drawing and painting that was encouraged by his family. By 1849 he was receiving tuition in the studio of John Mackenzie of Greenock, and the Clyde River and the environs of the Firth of Clyde were the focus of Gibb's paintings during the 1850s, 1860s and early 1870s. A traditionalist, Gibb aligned himself with the picturesque style akin to such artists as Sam Bough, Joseph Farquarson, Alfred de Breanski Snr. and John Harvey Oswald. He followed the academic practice of sketching the landscape and gathering information which was later worked up in the studio with intense attention to detail. In later years, as a keen photographer, he regularly used his half-plate camera to good effect as an aide memoire. Within three months of his arrival in Christchurch, Gibb held the first showing of his work and began making painting excursions around the South Island. As there was no art society in Christchurch, he exhibited at the Otago Society of Art Exhibitions in Dunedin from 1878 on. When the Canterbury Society of Arts was formed in 1880, Gibb was a foundation member and exhibited hundreds of works with the Society until his death in 1909. He also showed in Auckland and Wellington from the early 1880s and sent works to all the international and inter-colonial exhibitions beyond New Zealand. In the 1880s Gibb was regarded as New Zealand's major professional marine painter, a specialisation that enabled him to exercise his fascination with detail and which led to many private commissions in New Zealand and Australia.

This vignette exhibition features 22 paintings by Gibb with works from the Gallery's collection joined by loans from both private and institutional sources.

The Vignette Series:

John Gibb (1831–1909) 5 February – 5 March
Alfred Walsh (1859–1916) 12 February – 12 March
Charles Kidson (1867–1908) 25 March – 30 April
Leonard Booth (1879–1977) 13 May – 18 June
Grace Butler (1870–1962) 10 June – 6 August
Archibald Nicoll (1886–1953) 1 July – 6 August
Richard (1882–1955) and Elizabeth Wallwork (1884–1969) 26 August – 24 September

Neil Roberts

This exhibition was held at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in the Botanic Gardens.


  • Date:
    5 February – 5 March 2000
  • Curator:
    Neil Roberts
  • Exhibition number: