Landscape painting in New Zealand
- Christopher Johnstone
From the formal establishment of New Zealand with the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 until the 1960s, landscape was the predominant genre of painting in New Zealand. Several interrelated artistic, social, and practical reasons led to this and to the differing approaches to landscape representation during the period. They range from the country being ‘a land absolutely teeming with artistic subjects of the most varied kind… [offering] the special features of every country which is remarkable for its scenery’ (Hodgkins, 1880) to a belief that the mild climate made painting out of doors possible ‘without much discomfort all the year round’ (Killick, 1917).
The first professional artist to spend time in and paint New Zealand, in 1827–8, was Earl family, §3, but the artists who followed him in the 1840s were mostly amateurs—sailors, surveyors, and administrators, and later soldiers. Their objectives were largely governed by colonizing imperatives: documenting the country to promote it to potential settlers back ‘home’ who wanted to see non-threatening potential destinations. Watercolour was the primary medium. William Fox (...