Petrus van der Velden - Mountain Stream, Otira Gorge

Veteran train manager Duncan Browne talks about Otira

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Article
Trove

Trove

Recounting the untold stories behind some of the works in the exhibition Treasury: A Generous Legacy, curator Ken Hall also underlines the value of art philanthropy.

Exhibition
McCahon / Van der Velden

McCahon / Van der Velden

An exhibition of two of New Zealand's most respected painters.

Exhibition
Treasury: A Generous Legacy

Treasury: A Generous Legacy

Stunning proof of the impact of generosity on the Christchurch collection.

Notes
Canterbury Landscape by Colin McCahon

Canterbury Landscape by Colin McCahon

In 2014 we purchased an important landscape work by Colin McCahon. Curator Peter Vangioni speaks about this new addition to Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection.

Notes
Study (Woman in a wide black hat) by Raymond McIntyre

Study (Woman in a wide black hat) by Raymond McIntyre

This article first appeared as 'The Muse' in The Press on 25 August 2015.

Collection
Lake Wakatipu
John Gully Lake Wakatipu

In 1877, John Gully retired from his role as chief draughtsman in the Nelson Survey Office and took a month-long sketching tour of Wanaka, Milford Sound, Wakatipu and Manapouri. A year later, when he exhibited his new watercolours, he was commended by the Nelson Evening Mail for “two large watercolour paintings, the latest, and, to our mind, the best of the many that have been produced from the studio of that now celebrated artist... These represented Milford Sound and Lake Wakatipu… two nobler pictures it would be difficult to find.”

(Our Collection: 19th and 20th Century New Zealand Art, 2018)

Commentary
The wisdom of crowds

The wisdom of crowds

In recent years, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing have become big news in the arts. By providing a funding model that enables would-be-investors to become involved in the production of new works, they have altered traditional models of patronage. Musicians, designers, dancers and visual artists are inviting the public to finance their projects via the internet. The public are also being asked to provide wealth in the form of cultural capital through crowdsourcing projects. The Gallery has been involved in two online crowdfunding ventures – a project with a public art focus around our 10th birthday celebrations, and the purchase of a major sculpture for the city. But, although these projects have been made possible by the internet, the concept behind the funding model is certainly not new. The rise of online crowdfunding platforms also raises important questions about the role of the state in the funding and generation of artwork, and the democratisation of tastemaking. How are models of supply and demand affected? Does the freedom from more traditional funding models allow greater innovation? Do 'serious' artists even ask for money? It's a big topic, and one that is undoubtedly shaping up in PhD theses around the world already. Bulletin asked a few commentators for their thoughts on the matter.

 

Notes
Still life with flowers in a basket by Pieter Hardimé

Still life with flowers in a basket by Pieter Hardimé

This article first appeared as 'Allegory of life's beauty, brevity and fragility' in The Press on 15 August 2014.

Collection
Laura
Elizabeth Kelly Laura

Elizabeth Kelly (née Abbott) made this sculptural portrait bust while at the Canterbury College School of Art, where she studied from 1891–1901. She won regular prizes for her modelling from life, including at the 1906–07 Christchurch International Exhibition. Kelly later became one of New Zealand’s leading society portrait painters, in the 1930s showing her work in exhibitions in London, Edinburgh and Paris.

Laura was modelled on the artist’s younger sister, Laura Maude Cox (née Abbott, 1884–1957). One of the earliest sculptures in the collection by a New Zealand born artist, it is a recent gift to the city from Margaret Abbott, a great-niece of the two sisters.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
Nor'western Sky
Petrus van der Velden Nor'western Sky

“‘Colour is light’ and there is no darkness at all – there is light or less light. In each part, even the darkest, there is some light and the difficulty is to get the different kinds of light showing in even quite small parts. There are no hard lines in nature – the light shines in and round everything and breaks all the hardness by modifying and diffusing the apparently sharp edges.” —Petrus van der Velden

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Notes
Revealed

Revealed

The answer to yesterday's puzzle is Teresina by Frederick Leighton

Collection
Mountain Stream, Otira Gorge
Petrus van der Velden Mountain Stream, Otira Gorge

The Rotterdam-born Petrus van der Velden arrived in New Zealand in 1890. Following his first visit to Otira Gorge in January 1891, he became engrossed with this subject, and painted its powerful, surging torrents many times over the next two years.

This painting was purchased by Gilbert Anderson, a leader in New Zealand’s frozen meat industry, also involved with the Canterbury Society of Arts. Anderson sold it to the Society in 1912; it was purchased from them in 1996 through the Community Trust and Christchurch Art Gallery Trust.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Notes
Untitled by Meindert Hobbema

Untitled by Meindert Hobbema

This article first appeared as 'Dutch treat' in The Press on 12 April 2013.

Collection
Still Life with Flowers in a Basket
Pieter Hardimé Still Life with Flowers in a Basket

As well as being enjoyed for their superb decorative qualities, Dutch still life paintings were intended to be reminders of the beauty, brevity and fragility of life. An arrangement of tulips, anemone, nicotiana, jonquils, morning glory and oriental poppies, this work is attributed to the Antwerp-born Flemish painter Pieter Hardimé, who lived at The Hague from 1697.

The painting arrived from Windsor, England as an unexpected and welcome gift, shortly after the 2011 earthquakes. It was given in memory of Kathleen Muriel Whiteley (1904–1949), who had historical family ties to Christchurch, from the estate of her husband Albert, whom she married two years before her death in 1949.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Article
The East India Company man: Brigadier-General Alexander Walker

The East India Company man: Brigadier-General Alexander Walker

Getting to know people can take time. While preparing for a future exhibition of early portraits from the collection, I'm becoming acquainted with Alexander Walker, and finding him a rewarding subject. Painted in 1819 by the leading Scottish portraitist of his day, Sir Henry Raeburn, Walker's portrait is wrought with Raeburn's characteristic blend of painterly vigour and attentive care and conveys the impression of a well-captured likeness.

Notes
Angels and Aristocrats

Angels and Aristocrats

Blair Jackson and I attended the opening of Angels & Aristocrats at Dunedin Public Art Gallery on Friday 27 April. It's spectacular.

Notes
Taking Stock

Taking Stock

It's hard to believe, but only eighteen collection works were damaged as a result of all earthquakes, with fourteen damaged on the 22 February 2011.

Article
Gazumped

Gazumped

One of the exhibitions brought to a halt by the 22 February earthquake was De-Building, which critic Warren Feeney had described only days earlier as 'Christchurch Art Gallery's finest group show since it opened in 2003'. Seven months on, the show's curator, Justin Paton, reflects on random destruction, strange echoes, critical distance, and the 'gazumping of art by life'.

Interview
Otira: it's a state of mind

Otira: it's a state of mind

A short road trip to the Otira Gorge was the scene for a conversation between Gallery curator Peter Vangioni and two of the artists included in Van der Velden: Otira, Jason Greig and the Torlesse Supergroup's Roy Montgomery.

Article
Van der Velden: Otira

Van der Velden: Otira

A first encounter with a painting by Petrus van der Velden more than twenty years ago was the start of many years of research for Gallery curator Peter Vangioni. Peter is the lead author of the Gallery's new book on van der Velden, and talks here of his fascination with the artist's Otira works.

Exhibition
Van der Velden: Otira

Van der Velden: Otira

This exhibition brings together a comprehensive selection of Van der Velden's paintings portraying the wild, untouched natural beauty of the Otira region's mountainous landscape.

Exhibition
Coming Home in the Dark

Coming Home in the Dark

Fourteen artists with connections to the Mainland are represented in an exhibition that explores the dark underbelly of the region's genteel appearance.

Collection
Ina te Papatahi, A Ngāpuhi Chieftainess
Charles Frederick Goldie Ina te Papatahi, A Ngāpuhi Chieftainess

Ina Te Papatahi (Te Ngahengahe, Ngāpuhi) was a niece of the prominent Ngāpuhi chiefs Eruera Maihi Patuone and Tāmati Waka Nene, both early signatories of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Ina Te Papatahi lived at the Waipapa Māori hostel in Mechanic’s Bay, Auckland, not far from Charles Goldie’s Hobson Street studio. She sat for him many times and introduced him to many of his other Māori sitters. This likeness belongs to the period when Goldie started painting portraits of elderly Māori with moko, as both memorable subjects and “noble relics of a noble race”. It also reflects the impact of his four and a half years studying in Paris from 1893, where influences included the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, whose portraits he studied and several times copied.

(He Waka Eke Noa, 18 February 2017 – 18 February 2018)

Collection
Pleasure Garden
Frances Hodgkins Pleasure Garden

This work was painted during a sketching trip to Bridgnorth, Shropshire in the summer of 1932. Its lively watercolour style and subject matter express Hodgkins’s characteristic interest in capturing the fleeting sensations of a moment.

Following her death in England, Pleasure Garden was one of six works by Hodgkins brought to Christchurch in 1948 at the request of the Canterbury Society of Arts. When the Society’s purchasing committee rejected the selection, a group of independent art supporters raised the purchase price and offered it to the city’s gallery, whose refusal generated metres of newspaper column displeasure and debate. In 1951 their persistence finally paid off.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
The Colosseum seen from the Southeast
Gaspar van Wittel The Colosseum seen from the Southeast

Gaspar van Wittel is also known by the italianised version of his name, Vanvitelli

Dutch-born Gaspar van Wittel reached Rome aged about twenty-two in 1674, becoming part of a high-spirited, long-established group of expatriate Dutch painters known as the Bentvueghels (Dutch for ‘birds of a feather’). He married Anna Lorenzani of Rome (their eldest son was the leading eighteenth-century Italian architect Luigi Vanvitelli) and spent the rest of his life in Italy. Van Wittel played a pivotal role in the development of the genre of topographical painting known as veduta, and was an important influence on later artists such as Canaletto (1697–1768). Van Wittel’s paintings typically became treasured souvenirs for those on the high culture rite of passage known as the Grand Tour. Three other versions of this view are known, at different sizes and with different arrangements of figures, livestock and lighting. These are based on a gridded pencil, ink and watercolour sketch dated 1685 and held at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma.

(The Weight of Sunlight, 16 September 2017 - 16 September 2018)

Collection
Burial in the winter on the island of Marken [The Dutch Funeral]
Petrus van der Velden Burial in the winter on the island of Marken [The Dutch Funeral]

Research for the exhibition Closer (16 December 2017 – 19 August 2018) resulted in the restoration of this work's orginal title. In Dutch 'Begrafenis in den winter op het eiland Marken' and in English 'Burial in the winter on the island of Marken'.


One of Petrus van der Velden’s most significant paintings, Burial in the winter on the island of Marken arrived in Christchurch several years before the artist. It was brought to New Zealand by Gerritt van Asch, the pioneering educator for the hearing impaired, who had purchased it from van der Velden in Holland sometime before 1879. Van der Velden himself arrived in Christchurch, sponsored by van Asch, in mid 1890 and made an immediate impact on New Zealand art circles of the time. His genre paintings like this one were widely appreciated by the public and the press often described him in glowing terms as a “distinguished Dutch artist”. Holland’s loss was New Zealand’s gain and van der Velden went on to paint one of New Zealand’s most significant bodies of paintings, his famous Otira series, from the late nineteenth century.

(New Dawn Fades, November 2018)

Collection
La Lecture de la Bible
Henriette Browne La Lecture de la Bible

The French artist Henriette Browne excelled at painting highly realist, representational narrative paintings and La Lecture de la Bible is one of her finest. Browne produced several portraits of religious devotees and the two young women in this painting are thought to be novices studying to enter a religious order. They are clearly virtuous – their austere black garments suggest a puritan character and the painting is also known as The Puritans. The withered flowers on the table are the most obvious narrative element in the painting, these are a vanitas symbol for the passing of time and the loss of youth. La Lecture de la Bible was first owned by Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoléon III, and was presented to the Gallery by its major benefactor, Robert McDougall.

(New Dawn Fades, November 2018)

First exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1857 with the title 'Les Puritaines', this painting has for many years also been known as 'La Lecture de la Bible'.

Collection
As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land
Colin McCahon As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land

‘As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land.’ Colin McCahon quoted this text often on works between the mid-1960s and early 1970s: he took it from the writings of a twelfth-century Japanese Buddhist monk, Shinran, who was the founder of a tradition known as Pure Land Buddhism. McCahon had long been interested in light as a metaphor both for faith and enlightenment, and had begun a related series of dramatic semi-abstract waterfall paintings in 1964, in which a curve of white light cleaved through darkness. Here the landscape element has been reduced to a simple horizon, a dividing line between sky and sea, or sky and land, at the very edge of vision. (March 2018)

Collection
Light falling through a dark landscape (A)
Colin McCahon Light falling through a dark landscape (A)

For the exhibition Untitled #1050 (25 November 2017 – 14 October 2018) this work was displayed with the following label:

“As a painter I may often be more worried about you than you are about me and if I wasn’t concerned I’d not be doing my work properly as a painter. Painting can be a potent way of talking.

“Do you believe in the sunrise?

“My painting year happens first in late winter and early spring. I paint with the season and paint best during the long hot summers. I prefer to paint at night or more especially in the late summer afternoons when, as the light fades, tonal relationships become terrifyingly clear.

“At night I paint under a very large incandescent light bulb. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I am only now, and slowly, becoming able to paint in the morning. After a lifetime of working – farming, factories, gardening, teaching, the years at the Auckland City Art Gallery – I find it hard to paint in the world’s usual work-time. It can be difficult to accept that painting too is work.”

—Colin McCahon, 1972

Collection
Study (Woman in a Wide Black Hat)
Raymond McIntyre Study (Woman in a Wide Black Hat)

Arriving in London in 1909, the Christchurch-born and trained Raymond McIntyre soon gained a reputation there for his small, pared-back landscapes and studies of female heads, painted in an elegant, simplified, Japanese woodblock inspired style. This painting was modelled on an actor and dancer who became his principal muse from 1912, sometimes mentioned in his letters home: “The girl who is sitting for me a lot now, Sylvia Constance Cavendish… has a very refined interesting pale face… I have done some very good work from her… she is quite a find.”

McIntyre died in London in 1933. Seven of his works were given by his family between 1938 and 1991.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
Glasgerion
George Sheridan Knowles Glasgerion

The Manchester-born painter and illustrator George Sheridan Knowles specialised in romantic history pieces and genre scenes. This work – exhibited at the Royal Academy, London in 1897 – was based on a tragic medieval ballad, in which Glasgerion, a king ’s son, has cast his troubadour spell over the court of the King of Normandy, in pursuit of his fair daughter. The story doesn’t end well.

This was one of six paintings imported from England to Christchurch by the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1903 for consideration to purchase; its acquisition was generously funded by the businessman and politician John T. Peacock (1827–1905). Glasgerion was presented to the city’s new gallery in 1932.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
In the Wizard’s Garden
George Leslie In the Wizard’s Garden

Narrative paintings such as In the Wizard’s Garden were extremely popular with Victorian audiences. Loaded with symbolism that referred to the notion of the fallen woman, the artist provided visual pointers to be unpicked and read by the audience. These include the hitched-up scarlet dress, the fallen leaves in the foreground and the shears which, shown with the blades open, suggest a loss of virtue. Contrasted with the innocence of the young woman, the presence of the silhouetted figure entering the garden adds a sinister element. The stream separating the two figures symbolises a barrier between them – her virtue hangs in the balance. Will she remain pure or will she, through the act of crossing the water, succumb to wantonness?George Dunlop Leslie was a successful, prolific artist who exhibited annually at the Royal Academy from 1859; usually theatrical, symbol-laden paintings of young women from a previous age.

(New Dawn Fades, November 2018)

Collection
King Tawhiao Potatau Te Wherowhero
Gottfried Lindauer King Tawhiao Potatau Te Wherowhero

The Vienna-trained, Bohemian-born artist Gottfried Lindauer arrived in New Zealand in 1874, and became famous for his portraits of eminent Māori. Lindauer painted several portraits of Tūkaroto Matutaera Pōtatau Te Wherowhero Tāwhiao (c. 1825–1894), the second Māori king, based on photographs by others. This painting is based on a studio portrait taken in 1884 by Australian photographer Henry King, during King Tāwhiao’s visit to Sydney while en route to England. Tāwhiao’s goal was to meet with and gain recognition from Queen Victoria of the Treaty of Waitangi and to redress the injustice of vast confiscations of Māori land, but did not meet with success.

(He Waka Eke Noa, 18 February 2017 – 18 February 2018)

Collection
Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is
Colin McCahon Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is

In April 1958 Colin McCahon travelled to the US, responding both to the expansiveness of the American landscape and to the modern American painting that he saw in museums. On his return, his works increased in scale while economising in gesture: the landscape elements of Tomorrow have been reduced to a horizon and lowering sky, with the land bisected by a grey river. He converted his Titirangi garage into a studio, and built an extra bedroom for his children underneath. The studio was gloomy – there was only one small side window for light when the garage door was closed – but it precipitated dozens of new works. Tomorrow was an unfortunate painting, said McCahon, ‘in that it wouldn’t go right, and I got madder and madder. I hurled a whole lovely quart tin of black Dulux at the board and reconstructed the painting out of the mess.’ The black paint (a commercial flooring paint, mixed with sand) dripped down the surface of the work and ran between wide cracks in the studio floorboards, ruining clothes and bed linen in his sons’ room below. He finally finished the painting in May 1959.

(March 2018)

Collection
Ruth
Raymond McIntyre Ruth

Arriving in London in 1909, the Christchurch-born and trained Raymond McIntyre soon gained a reputation there for his small, pared-back landscapes and studies of female heads, painted in an elegant, simplified, Japanese woodblock inspired style. This painting was modelled on an actor and dancer who became his principal muse from 1912, sometimes mentioned in his letters home: “The girl who is sitting for me a lot now, Sylvia Constance Cavendish… has a very refined interesting pale face… I have done some very good work from her… she is quite a find.”

McIntyre died in London in 1933. Seven of his works were given by his family between 1938 and 1991.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
Van Gogh: Poems by John Caselberg
Colin McCahon Van Gogh: Poems by John Caselberg

Vincent van Gogh was an artist with whom McCahon strongly identified. He produced this suite of lithographs based on several poems about the troubled Dutch artist written by his close friend John Caselberg.

As an aside, van Gogh had met van der Velden in Holland on several occasions, and in 1883 wrote to his brother Theo of his admiration for the artist:

I met Van der V. once, and he made a good impression on me at the time. I was reminded of the character of Felix Holt [the main character in George Eliot's novel Felix Holt, The Radical, who favoured a life of working class poverty over the comforts afforded through the wealth within his reach]. There’s something broad and rough in him that pleases me greatly – something like the roughness of torchon [a rough-surfaced paper]. A man who evidently doesn’t seek civilization in outward things but is much further inwardly, much, much further than most people. In short, he’s a true artist, and I’d like to get to know him for I would trust him and I’m sure I would learn from him.

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Collection
Windmill by Moonlight
Petrus van der Velden Windmill by Moonlight

“The greatest of all lessons is to learn to see. Many are ‘colour blind’ till they have their eyes opened to nature’s lessons, which she is always trying to teach us. But we must always tell what nature says to us, simply and directly without pretence or falsehood. Tell the Truth. Christ was the greatest artist. His words and pictures are a simple telling of nature's lessons – they are always the Truth. ‘We reason with colours. Colours are dead’, but by telling what nature teaches us the dead colours enable us to express the wonders and beauties of the Creator’s work.”

—Petrus van der Velden

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Collection
Atmospheric Study, Sumner
Petrus van der Velden Atmospheric Study, Sumner

Petrus van der Velden valued the medium of drawing as highly as painting and was an extremely talented draughtsman. Spontaneously drawn outdoors directly before the subject, this small study shows Van der Velden’s interest in depicting dramatic, stormy atmospheric conditions with strong contrasts of light and dark. In the early 1890s, van der Velden and his family settled in Sumner, Christchurch where they stayed with the Van Asch family. Van der Velden immediately went about sketching in the region, and by the end of the year he had completed several major paintings based on Sumner scenes. Born in Rotterdam, van der Velden established himself as a painter, particularly of marine subjects, before he and his wife emigrated from Holland in 1890. He struggled to make a living in Christchurch, however, and moved to Sydney in 1898. He returned to settle in Wellington in 1904 and died in Auckland.

Collection
Mount Rolleston and the Otira River
Petrus van der Velden Mount Rolleston and the Otira River

Van der Velden described his first visit to the Otira Gorge: 'For the first three days I did nothing at all but just looked, it took my breath away.'

The lines between religion and art were blurred for van der Velden, and he often drew similarities between the two: 'There is as much nonsense talked about art as Jesus and because it's the same business nothing is understood. Tell the people sometime that Rembrandt and Jesus have the same meaning; how they would laugh, and yet it is true – Rembrandt made a study of light during his life, and Jesus did nothing else.'

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Collection
Cynthia’s Birthday
Harry Linley Richardson Cynthia’s Birthday

Harry Linley Richardson was brought out to New Zealand from London in 1908 to become an art instructor at the Wellington Technical School. His design background led to New Zealand postage stamp design commissions and he became well-known for his paintings, predominantly of children and Māori subjects.

Cynthia’s Birthday, based on his own children, was exhibited in Auckland and Wellington in 1927 and Christchurch in 1928, and purchased by the Canterbury Society of Arts with funding support from the city council. One of the first paintings to be bought for the city’s intended new public art gallery, it was presented by the Society in 1932.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
A Hot Day. Wiremu Pātara Te Tuhi, Ngāti Mahuta
Charles Frederick Goldie A Hot Day. Wiremu Pātara Te Tuhi, Ngāti Mahuta

The Ngāti Mahuta chief Pātara Te Tuhi (c. 1824–1910) was a key leader in the Kīngitanga, the Māori King movement which aimed to unify Māori under a single sovereign. He was a newspaper publisher and secretary to his cousin King Tāwhiao, travelling with him to England in 1884 to seek recognition from Queen Victoria of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi signed on her behalf. Pātara Te Tuhi first met Charles Goldie in 1901 and became a favourite, regular model. He also became increasingly well- known throughout New Zealand through the widespread reproduction of his painted and photographic portraits. Goldie attended Pātara Te Tuhi’s tangi in 1910, where two reproductions of this portrait were prominently displayed.

(He Waka Eke Noa, 18 February 2017 – 18 February 2018)

Collection
A Reading from Plato
Gertrude Demain Hammond A Reading from Plato

Gertrude Demain Hammond was a prolific London illustrator who was also active in exhibiting her watercolours. A Reading from Plato was shown at the Royal Academy in London in 1903 before coming to Christchurch for the 1906–07 New Zealand International Exhibition. There it was purchased by the avid local art collector James Jamieson, who with his brother William, ran one of the city’s largest construction companies.

Following his death in 1927, James’s family presented many works of art from his collection to become part of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery’s founding collection, which at its opening in 1932 consisted of 160 paintings and sculptures.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
Scene in a Tavern
Matthijs Naiveu Scene in a Tavern

Matthijs Naiveu studied under the leading seventeenth century Dutch painter Gerrit Dou (painter of The Physician). Naiveu’s tavern scene presents a moral lesson: the child implores his mother and a man who may be his father to put their intoxication aside, and give him a better chance in life.

This is one of many works presented to the Gallery by the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1932. It was bequeathed to the society by Scottish-born Major Archibald C. D. Spencer (1861–1929). Major Spencer retired from service with the Royal Irish Rifles in South Africa, Canada and Malta and settled at Mount Peel in South Canterbury.

Collection
Relaxation
Thomas Benjamin Kennington Relaxation

Thomas Benjamin Kennington’s focus as an artist was in the sympathetic depiction of the everyday reality of the poor and working classes. Born in Great Grimsby, a seaport town in England’s northeast, he studied art in Liverpool, London and Paris, and from 1880 exhibited annually at the Royal Academy, where this naturalistic workroom scene was shown in 1908.

Relaxation was exhibited at the 1911 International Exposition of Art in Rome and at the 1913 New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts exhibiton in Wellington. By 1920 it was in the hands of newspaper proprietor Robert Bell. Bell was president of the Canterbury Society of Arts from 1925–26, and bequeathed ten paintings to the gallery. (Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
Teresina
Lord Frederic Leighton Teresina

Teresina was one of four works shown by the leading British painter Frederic Leighton at the Royal Academy in London in 1876. His model was a young Italian woman in Rome, to where he habitually relocated from London each autumn. The name Teresina appears in a crowded notebook list of models sketched during his stay there in 1874. Italy became Leighton’s second home. He first visited Rome aged ten in 1840, when (for his mother’s health) the family left England for the Continent, spending time Germany, Switzerland and Italy. In Rome he took his first drawing classes, and (as an early biographer noted) ‘the buildings, the fountains, the ruins, the models awaiting hire on the Piazza di Spagna, fascinated him, and he filled many sketch-books with records of all the picturesque scenes that struck him as so new and wonderful.’ Leighton remained enamoured with Rome and with travel, finding subject-matter for his ambitious, classically-themed narrative paintings from multiple tours through Europe as well as visits to North Africa and the Holy Land.

(The Weight of Sunlight, 16 September 2017 - 16 September 2018)

Collection
Ana Reupene Whetuki and Child
Gottfried Lindauer Ana Reupene Whetuki and Child

Ana Reupene Whetuki from the Ngāti Maru iwi (tribe) was well- known in the Thames goldfields district in the Coromandel. She lived at Manaia, where her descendants still live today. Also known as Heeni Hirini and Ana Rupene, she was married to Reupene Whetuki, a Ngāti Maru rangatira (chief) who in 1881 was also listed as a gold miner and shareholder in ‘The Maori Win Gold Mining Company’. Gottfried Lindauer is known to have painted at least twelve versions of this portrait between 1878 and 1920. These were based on the photographic studio portrait by the Foy Brothers of Thames, which is also in this exhibition. Lindauer had first visited Thames in 1874 shortly after arriving in New Zealand from Bohemia (present day Czech Republic).

(He Waka Eke Noa, 18 February 2017 – 18 February 2018)

Collection
Cottage Interior with Kitchen Maid
Gabriel Metsu, Artist Unknown Cottage Interior with Kitchen Maid

The artist for this early Dutch domestic scene is not identified, but it suggests the influence of Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667), a student of Gerrit Dou, whose painting The Physician is also in the Gallery's collection. The scene celebrates the established ideals of seventeenth-century Dutch housekeeping, with ingredients waiting and pans and utensils shining clean; everything carefully prepared and in order.

This painting entered the collection as a gift (along with twelve engravings by William Hogarth) from the estate of Frederick James Oakley, an English dental surgeon who moved to Christchurch with his wife in 1953 and died here three years later.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
Nathaniel Webb, Esq., of Roundhill Grange, Charlton Musgrove, Somerset
Artist Unknown Nathaniel Webb, Esq., of Roundhill Grange, Charlton Musgrove, Somerset

Nathaniel Webb, the subject of this striking 300-year-old portrait, was a Bristol merchant who – like many of his peers in this period – is known to have made a vast fortune through West Indies sugar and slavery.

Webb’s portrait was donated in 2007 by a direct descendant, in honour of her father John Jekyll Cuddon, a respected Christchurch chartered accountant. The painting came to New Zealand with Henry Joseph C. Jekyll, who immigrated to Canterbury in 1862, and in 1880 purchased a large parcel of farmland beyond the edges of Christchurch, naming it Dallington after an old family estate.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
The Physician
Gerrit Dou The Physician

Gerrit Dou was a leading figure in Dutch painting during the 1600s – a period often referred to as the Golden Age. A pupil of Rembrandt van Rijn, Dou favoured painting interior scenes and his work is renowned for its minute detail and immaculate finish. In The Physician a learned man examines the contents of a flask thought to contain urine, a test frequently used to diagnose pregnancy in the seventeenth century. Although it is a small painting, it is full of symbolism: the putti playing with a goat in the frieze represents sinful pleasure and the medical book opened on a page featuring a human skeleton leaning against a shovel represents a gravedigger, a memento mori, or reminder of our own mortality.

(New Dawn Fades, November 2018)

Collection
Girl with a Mask
William Powell Frith Girl with a Mask

Although apparently portraying a refined Venetian lady – a young woman with carnival mask, black veil and shawl – this work was painted not in Italy, but England. Yorkshire-born William Frith, who became extremely well-known for his large, densely populated panoramas of contemporary English life, also painted small costume studies early in his career, often modelled on literary figures. Frith’s model in this work, painted in 1846, strongly resembles his wife Isabelle (née Baker), whom he married in York in June 1845; Isabelle sat for him several times. Isabelle Frith became a close friend and confidante of Catherine Dickens, wife of author Charles, who (although a friend of her husband’s) she later banned from entering their London home; this following the 1858 breakup of the Dickens’ marriage. The Frith marriage was also ‘troubled’: Isabelle had 12 children to William from 1846–60; his mistress Mary Alford had six more to him from 1855. (He married Mary in 1881, a year after the death of Isabelle.)

(The Weight of Sunlight, 16 September 2017 - 16 September 2018)

Collection
The Black Hat
George Henry The Black Hat

In about 1901, having established a strong reputation with his painting in Scotland, the Glasgow-based George Henry relocated to London, where he began to establish a successful society portrait practice.

The Black Hat – possibly the work exhibited to acclaim as ‘La dame au chapeau noir’ at the Royal Glasgow Institute in 1904 – was one of twelve paintings selected in 1911 by the English artist Niels Lund to be purchased for the Canterbury Society of Arts. Its acquisition in 1912 was enabled through a newly agreed £50 annual subsidy from the Christchurch City Council; the society presented the painting to the city's new public gallery in 1932.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

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A Wooded Landscape with Peasants on a Path and an Angler at a Stream
Meindert Hobbema A Wooded Landscape with Peasants on a Path and an Angler at a Stream

Meindert Hobbema’s exclusive focus on the countryside has been seen as relating to the extraordinary expansion of the Dutch nation’s towns and cities during his lifetime, which he spent in Amsterdam, and to urban art buyers’ newfound taste for idealised depictions of rural life. Although under-recognised in his own lifetime, Hobbema is now celebrated as one of the greatest landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Born a carpenter’s son and living in an orphanage at age 15, Hobbema was apprenticed two years later to the landscape painter Jacob van Ruisdael – his most important influence. Hobbema liked to work with a continual rearrangement of a restricted group of elements. Nearly always, a large tree dominates the composition, with everything else – smaller trees, paths, pools and streams, decaying farmhouses or watermills – carefully placed, inviting the viewer to read and enter his pictures in layers.

(The Weight of Sunlight 16 September 2017 - 16 September 2018)

Collection
Unshatterable (Belgian Refugees)
Frances Hodgkins Unshatterable (Belgian Refugees)

The Dunedin-born Frances Hodgkins was running her own watercolour painting school in Paris when World War I broke out in 1914. She relocated to St. Ives in Cornwall, where she found many displaced Belgian families also living, and painted this work in response to their wretched plight. Unshatterable, one of her first oil paintings, was exhibited in London in 1916 and purchased by the painter Sir Cedric Morris. Dr Rodney Wilson, the Gallery’s director in 1980, visited Morris, and with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund, a British art charity, successfully secured this work for the Christchurch collection.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Collection
Mrs Barbara Walker of Bowland
Sir Henry Raeburn Mrs Barbara Walker of Bowland

The 55-year-old Alexander Walker (1764–1831) and his wife Barbara (née Montgomery, 1770–1831) commissioned Scotland’s leading portraitist, Henry Raeburn, to paint their portraits in 1819. They had married eight years earlier; shortly after Alexander’s retirement from over thirty years’ service with the East India Company – mostly in India – and had two young sons. Alexander had one final Company role before him, that of Governor of St. Helena from 1823–28.

Two of their grandsons, William Campbell Walker and Alexander John Walker, immigrated to New Zealand in 1862 to farm in Canterbury; William later became Minister of Education. These impressive ancestral portraits were presented by descendants in 1984.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

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Dante’s Beatrice
U Biagini Dante’s Beatrice

Previously attributed to the Rome-based sculptor Alfredo Biagini, Dante’s Beatrice is now recognised as the work of a lesser-known but nevertheless highly accomplished artist U. Biagini working in Florence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Representing Beatrice, who captured the heart of the thirteenth-century Italian poet Dante Alighieri, it is a fine example of the Florentine sculptor’s idealised marble busts.

Dante’s Beatrice was given to the city through the bequest of the retired Christchurch merchant and importer John Alexander Redpath (1875–1975).

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

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Psyche
Auguste Rodin Psyche

Psyche, in Greek mythology, was a mortal princess whose beauty attracted the attention of Eros, the god of love, and the jealous anger of his mother Aphrodite. The renowned Parisian sculptor Auguste Rodin worked on variations on the theme of Psyche between 1886 and 1905. This bronze is a later casting, produced by the Musée Rodin at a foundry in Paris in 1961.

Psyche was purchased by the New Zealand Government in 1962 through a fund established to strengthen learning and cultural relations between New Zealand and France. After being exhibited in Christchurch in 1963, this city became the sculpture’s permanent home.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

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Flowers in a vase
Jan Frans van Son Flowers in a vase

The Flemish artist Jan Frans van Son came from an artistic family; his father, Joris van Son, was also a respected painter. During the sixteenth century the demand for artists to paint flower subjects – particularly rare and exotic blooms – mirrored the increased enthusiasm for the cultivation of flowers in Holland. By the seventeenth century, still-life flower painting had become a major genre in Dutch painting, and it was at this that van Son excelled. He relocated to England as a young man around 1675 where he established himself as a highly successful painter renowned for his flower paintings.

(New Dawn Fades, November 2018)

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Sumner
Petrus van der Velden Sumner

“Colour is light, light is love and love is God and therefore on Sundays instead of going to church I teach my children drawing after nature. I have come to the conclusion that painting or drawing after nature, instead of being a luxury is the most necessary for the education of man. […] The aim of our existence is nothing else than to study nature and with so doing to understand more and more how grand and pure nature is and gives evidence of so much love.”

—Petrus van der Velden

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

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Blind V
Colin McCahon Blind V

The word ‘blind’ refers to a screen that cuts out light, but Colin McCahon also uses it to refer to an absence of vision. Questions of faith were important to McCahon and he often used references to blindness to suggest the inability to see the real essence and value of things. McCahon’s style was highly personal and distinctive. Blind V is part of a series of five works painted onto window blinds. The abstract forms have the feel of a beach and sky and it has been suggested that the ‘blindness’ which McCahon refers to was the inability of New Zealanders to really see and appreciate their own unique environment.

McCahon is regarded by many as New Zealand’s greatest contemporary artist. Born in Timaru, he studied art in Dunedin. He lived in Christchurch for a time, became keeper and assistant director at Auckland Art Gallery, then lecturer in painting at the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, before taking up painting full time in 1970.

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Bacchus and Ariadne
Jacopo Amigoni Bacchus and Ariadne

Jacopo Amigoni, who is believed to have been born in Naples or Venice, worked in Munich from 1719 as a painter at the court of Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria, before moving to London to paint for George II in 1729. Renowned as a pioneer of the Venetian Rococo style, Amigoni painted this sumptuous mythological scene during his stay in London. (Its hand-carved, contemporaneous ‘Carlo Maratta’ frame is also English-made, in a style inspired by Italian frames that reached England with returning Grand Tourists.) Smaller versions of Bacchus and Ariadne exist; including one once owned by a friend of Amigoni’s, the famous Italian castrato singer Carlo Broschi Farinelli, who also lived in London in this period. Patronage for artists such as Amigoni and Farinelli linked to the taste for Italian decorative art and high culture then prevalent among Europe’s elite. After returning to Venice in 1739, Amigoni spent his later years from 1747 in the court of King Ferdinand VI in Madrid.

(The Weight of Sunlight, 16 September 2017 - 16 September 2018)

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Soldiers in a Village
Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot Soldiers in a Village

Between 1618 and 1648, Europe was thrown into turmoil by the Thirty Years’ War – a bitter conflict that raged between Catholic and Protestant states. It was renowned for the vicious fighting often brought about by the large mercenary armies employed on both sides. Here, Droochsloot depicts the confiscations and pillaging by mercenary soldiers as they drive Dutch villagers from their homes.

(New Dawn Fades, November 2018)

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The Age of innocence
Alfred Drury The Age of innocence

Modelled by Alfred Drury after a friend’s daughter in fancy dress, this wistful bronze bust is one of many variations of The Age of Innocence he made between 1897 and 1918; some in white marble. It is regarded as an important work in the British New Sculpture movement, whose followers sought either greater naturalism or symbolic qualities than had been found in the prevailing neoclassical approach.

Brought from England to Christchurch for the 1906–07 New Zealand International Exhibition, it was purchased by the Canterbury Society of Arts, and presented to the city in 1932 to become part of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery’s founding collection.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

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Brigadier-General Alexander Walker of Bowland
Sir Henry Raeburn Brigadier-General Alexander Walker of Bowland

The 55-year-old Alexander Walker (1764–1831) and his wife Barbara (née Montgomery, 1770–1831) commissioned Scotland’s leading portraitist, Henry Raeburn, to paint their portraits in 1819. They had married eight years earlier; shortly after Alexander’s retirement from over thirty years’ service with the East India Company – mostly in India – and had two young sons. Alexander had one final Company role before him, that of Governor of St. Helena from 1823–28.

Two of their grandsons, William Campbell Walker and Alexander John Walker, immigrated to New Zealand in 1862 to farm in Canterbury; William later became Minister of Education. These impressive ancestral portraits were presented by descendants in 1984.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

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Panier de Raisins
Henri Fantin-Latour Panier de Raisins

Although he exhibited alongside the Impressionist artists at the Salon de Refusés in 1863, Fantin-Latour was very much an academic painter who continues to be widely admired for his still-life paintings of flowers and fruit. He had a studio in Paris but would travel with his wife and fellow painter Victoria Dubourg to their country cottage at Buré in Lower Normandy during the summer months, where their garden provided a wide choice of flowers and fruit to paint. Fantin-Latour enjoyed painting in a studio environment, hence his liking of still-life subjects, where he had more control over conditions such as lighting and compositional arrangements. He once said he had “…a horror of movement, of animated scenes, and the difficulty of painting in the open air with the sun and the shade.”

(New Dawn Fades, November 2018)

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Northland drawings
Colin McCahon Northland drawings

“Once more it states my interest in landscape as a symbol of place and also of the human condition. It is not so much a portrait of a place as such but is a memory of a time and an experience of a particular place.” —Colin McCahon

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

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Suzette
Raymond McIntyre Suzette

Arriving in London in 1909, the Christchurch-born and trained Raymond McIntyre soon gained a reputation there for his small, pared-back landscapes and studies of female heads, painted in an elegant, simplified, Japanese woodblock inspired style. These three paintings were modelled on an actor and dancer who became his principal muse from 1912, sometimes mentioned in his letters home: “The girl who is sitting for me a lot now, Sylvia Constance Cavendish… has a very refined interesting pale face… I have done some very good work from her… she is quite a find.”

McIntyre died in London in 1933. Seven of his works were given by his family between 1938 and 1991.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

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A View in Cologne with St. Gereon's Basilica
Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde A View in Cologne with St. Gereon's Basilica

Gerrit Berckheyde’s contribution to the Dutch Golden Age of painting was as an exponent of the cityscape, which became a new genre from the mid seventeenth-century. Berckheyde was Haarlem-based, and began producing paintings of Cologne in about 1670, from sketches made in the 1650s. He painted a series of works depicting St. Gereon’s Basilica, a large and distinctive Romanesque style church completed in the thirteenth century.

This painting was purchased through a significant bequest made in 1953 from an insurance settlement from the estate of William Ballantyne (1864–1934), whose art collection had been largely destroyed in the 1947 Ballantyne’s department store fire.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

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Nor’western Sky
Petrus van der Velden Nor’western Sky

The hot, dry nor'west winds of Canterbury produce dramatic cloud formations and an atmospheric light. Petrus van der Velden has captured these effects with what is probably Christchurch's River Avon in the foreground. He lived near the river between 1890 and 1893. The colonial woman bent over, occupied with her task of work, has echoes of his earlier Dutch paintings, which focused on Dutch peasants at work. Van der Velden painted in a realist manner, which was influenced by his association with the Dutch Hague School of painters who favoured dark sombre tones and a loose style of brushwork. The nor'west scene is created by using strong contrasts of light and shade (chiaroscuro). Born in Rotterdam, Van der Velden established himself as a painter, particularly of marine subjects, in Holland, from where he emigrated in 1890. However, he struggled to make a living in Christchurch and in 1898 went to Sydney. He returned to settle in Wellington in 1904 but died in Auckland.

Notes
Belgian Refugees by Frances Hodgkins

Belgian Refugees by Frances Hodgkins

This article first appeared in The Press on 28 February 2007

Belgian Refugees is one of the first oil paintings that Frances Hodgkins ever exhibited, although at the time she was already well accustomed to showing her watercolours. Working in oils and tempera on canvas, she used an experimental technique in this work that gained much from her experience with watercolour. Believed to have been first shown as Unshatterable, in October 1916 at the International Society's Autumn Exhibition in London, the choice of title would suggest a greater sense of resilience than is actually conveyed by this family group. Here only the baby is oblivious to trouble, while his nursing mother seems devoid of expression, and the older children tense with anxiety or fear. Behind the group, a gap in the swirling grey suggests the fact of a missing father, and this steam and smoke speaks of displacement, the atmospheric backdrop of a train station or the symbolic clouds of war. Within the wall of monochrome, intense colour is reserved for mother and child, who also remind of one of Hodgkins' favourite early choices of subject matter in watercolour.