Fifty Works from the Collection

28 March – 13 May 1992

In this, the gallery's sixtieth anniversary year, it is timely to focus on the permanent collection and return to the walls a number of historical works that have been seen infrequently in recent years. Throughout 1992 we hope to show many works from the gallery's collection as installations rather than as part of theme exhibitions.

Over the past decade it has been often difficult to show the collection because of space and the number of temporary exhibitions programmed.

This first collection installation will comprise fifty paintings representing the McDougall's historical British, European, and New Zealand collections spanning from around the mid 1650s through to the 1950s. It will include mostly portraits landscapes and narrative paintings.

Several of the works have undergone conservation treatment in recent years and were also part of the gallery's foundation collection.

A large proportion of the original gallery collection came from the Canterbury Society of Arts by gift in 1932. Other works were added to the collection mostly by donation and bequest, until the late 1940s when the first purchases were made.

Since that time the collection has grown steadily. Among the earliest works, to be shown in this installation will be paintings by seventeenth and eighteenth century artists Gerard Dou, Jan van Son, Henry Raeburn and William Havell.

The Victorian and Edwardian works selected will include La Lecture de la Bible by Henrietta Browne, the first work gifted to the gallery from a private collection, and Teresina by Lord Frederic Leighton, one of the finest portrait studies by a Victorian painter in Australasia.

A narrative work, Consent by T. C. Gotch will also be on show. This painting was originally brought out for the 1889-90 New Zealand and South Seas exhibition in Dunedin and although it has been in the collection since 1932 it has not been exhibited for nearly two decades because of its condition. Recent conservation has now made that possible.

Highlighted among the twentieth century New Zealand paintings will be works by C. F. Goldie, Raymond McIntyre, Sydney L. Thompson, Margaret Stoddart, Rita Angus, Evelyn Page, Russell Clark, Rudolf Gopas, W. A. Sutton and Frances Hodgkins to name just a few. The latter's Belgian Refugees is one of the earliest painted in the oil medium by Frances Hodgkins, and The Pleasure Garden still stands as one of the most controversial art works in New Zealand's history and has been strongly identified with this gallery's collection since 1951.

('Fifty Works from the Collection', Bulletin, No.78, March/April 1992, p.2)