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CharlEs F. Goldie


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introduction Charles F. Goldie is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s most famous artists and Gow Langsford Gallery is delighted to host As Rembrandt Would Have Painted the Ma-ori, the first one-man exhibition of his works in a dealer gallery for six decades. Although enlivened by controversy, his paintings are fabled in New Zealand history. Reports of thefts and vandalisms sit alongside perpetually record-shattering prices; while criticism that his works are testament to colonial racism is refuted by widespread praise of his talents and by those who revere his depictions of their ancestors. This exhibition brings together paintings from private collections around the country and will provide a rare opportunity for audiences to view his works outside a public gallery environment. In his essay written to accompany the exhibition, Goldie scholar Roger Blackley offers an insight into the mystique surrounding Goldie and his subjects.


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AS REMBRANDT WOULD HAVE PAINTED THE MAORI GOW LANGSFORD GALLERY, 15 MAY – 8 JUNE 2013


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AS REMBRANDT WOULD HAVE PAINTED THE MAORI ESSAY BY ROGER BLACKLEY

The painter Charles Frederick Goldie (1870-1947) was a canny self-publicist who deployed a number of strategies to bring his distinctive brand of Ma-ori portraiture to public attention. While his hyperrealist technique was termed ‘photographic’ by several contemporary critics, ‘photogenic’ would be a more appropriate description. Goldie launched his career in the early years of the twentieth century, when photomechanical reproductions were displacing engravings and lithographs in the illustrated press. By employing professional photographers to produce high-quality reproductions of his paintings, as well as publicity portraits staged in his exotically furnished studio, the artist was able to feed the media with irresistible imagery. Another of Goldie’s strategies enhanced the paintings’ visibility at exhibitions. The emphatic kauri frames, toned in various shades from bronze to black, were produced exclusively for the artist by local framer and art dealer, John Leech Ltd. Native timber had long provided a popular alternative to more expensive gilded frames, but Goldie’s frames formed a class of their own. The broad outer section evoked the rough-sawn texture of a commoditised plank of kauri, the mainstay of the Goldie family’s fortune. The smoothly finished inner sections instead suggested the complex ebonised mouldings surrounding the Rembrandt paintings Goldie had scrutinised in European museums. It was a fusion of Golden Age with Colonial. Among the earliest of the works to be framed in this distinctive fashion was Kai Paipa of 1901, described by a writer in the Herald as ‘the portrait of a well-known native woman in Auckland, smoking’.1 Now held in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth, England, Kai Paipa (Smoking) displays a loose, painterly approach combined with acute physiognomic realism.2 The identity of the ‘well-known native woman’ is revealed by

comparison of the work with Nikorima and Nicotina of 1910. Here nine years older, Katarina Nikorima still enjoys a pipe and seems also to be wearing the identical satin scarf with gold highlights seen in the earlier portrait. She additionally sports a silk headscarf and a green pleated blouse. Who is this enigmatic woman—well-known in 1901 but now obscure? Mrs Nikorima Poutotara was married to a leading chief of Nga-ti Maru and lived at Parawai, near Thames. Her contemporary fame was based largely on the superb contralto voice she exhibited at charity concerts, which drew vociferous demands for encores. Gradually, we learn from a 1904 commentator, ‘she appeared less and less in European society, and finally withdrew from it altogether, abandoned the tasteful and fashionable modes of dress that had been her wont, adopting the billycock hat and bright-coloured blouse and skirt so dear to her dusky sisters.’3 Katarina’s accomplishments in singing and piano-playing were the legacy of an elite education in England, thanks to Lady Martin who effectively adopted her as a girl after her father, the Anglican clergyman Pirimona Te Karari, drowned in 1864. Yet, as the journalist noted, ‘she abandoned them all for the primitive ways of the kainga.’ Release from the constraints of European fashion and decorum was a pleasure of the Ma-ori world, where women were free to smoke pipes and wear comfortable loose clothing. We accept that Goldie ‘dressed’ his models in traditional cloaks maintained as studio props, but what about the articles of velvet, silk and satin worn by the older female models? There is the distinctive scarf appearing in Nikorima’s depictions, nine years apart; the equally distinctive blanket worn by Ina Te Papatahi in a portrait of 1902, but also adorning her cousin Harata Rewiri Tarapata in 1903 as well as the unrelated model Wiripine Ninia in 1911. Is there some


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extent to which this represents their actual clothing, or is Goldie simply staging stereotypical tableaux of the picturesque attire sported by elderly Ma-ori women? The feminist writer Edith Searle Grossmann was fascinated by the colourful dress sense displayed by her Ma-ori contemporaries. In a profile of ‘The Aucklanders’ for a Dunedin newspaper, Grossmann wrote of ‘the women with velveteen blouses of scarlet and crimson and green, but shabby black skirts’, adding that ‘[p]articoloured shawls are much affected, and skirts are generally of an impartial width all round.’ 4 Grossmann made her observations in the vicinity of Albert Park, not far from Goldie’s Shortland Street studio, and it is tempting to imagine that she had noted Ina and Harata, who lived at Waipapa near the base of Constitution Hill.

ones, and all are surrounded by the emphatic trademark frames, they possess a distinctively warmer palette. The more painterly approach in this example may be a defensive response to criticisms of ‘miniaturism’ levelled against his earlier work, but the grandiloquent title suggests that Goldie’s PR nous remained as finely tuned as ever.

Goldie’s studio contained a piano on which Alfred Hill first tapped out his best-selling song, ‘Waiata Poi’, and it is easy to visualise Katarina entertaining the artist and his friends from her corpus of European songs in several languages. What were the motives that led her and other Ma-ori to involve themselves with Goldie’s project? Was it simply part of earning a living, a commercial exchange akin to the fees that Katarina earned as an interpreter for the Native Land Court? Or did her European education mean that she grasped the implications of participating in the European portrait tradition, that it offered a means of addressing posterity, of achieving a degree of immortality? Certainly, this was Goldie’s hope. As Rembrandt would have painted the Maori of 1933, a painting from Goldie’s late period, pays homage to the artistic hero of his youth while directing our attention to a seemingly more expressive mode of painting. It is one of the earliest works created when, after more than a decade of ill-health and artistic inactivity, the artist was persuaded by Governor-General Lord Bledisloe to return to painting. Though some of the late paintings are variants of earlier

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‘Auckland Society of Arts Exhibition’ New Zealand Herald, 1 November 1901, p. 3. For an illustration of Kai Paipa, see Roger Blackley, Goldie, Auckland: Auckland Art Gallery and David Bateman, 1997, p. 91.

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‘Pars about People’, Observer, 14 May 1904, p. 4.

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E. S. G., ‘The Aucklanders’, Otago Witness, 5 November 1902, p. 69.


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1. Ena Te Papatahi, 1902


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Original labels attached verso


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2. Memories, 1903


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3. Nikorima and Nicotina, 1910


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4. Drowsy, 1911


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5. A Noble Northern Chief, 1912


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Goldie with Atama Paparangi c.1905


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6. Life’s Long Day Closes, 1917


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7. A Centenarian, 1920


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8. As Rembrandt Would Have Painted the Ma-ori, 1933


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work details

1. Ena Te Papatahi, 1902 Ina Te Papatahi, Nga- Puhi oil on canvas 510 x 612 mm / 857 x 960 mm framed signed and dated with brush point lower right, C.F. Goldie, Auckland, 1902; inscribed verso, Goldie. Auckland, £26.5.0 (faded), label attached verso, inscribed, Ena Te Papatahi a Chieftainess of the Ngapuhi Tribe, 1902, Exhibition no. 5, Crate no. 35 Provenance: Private Collection, GOLDIE, Auckland Art Gallery Exhibition, 1997 (catalogue number 57); Private Collection, Christchurch Published: Blackley, R. (1997), Goldie, Auckland Art Gallery, p. 96

2. Memories, 1903

3. Nikorima and Nicotina, 1910

4. Drowsy, 1911

Harata Rewiri Tarapata, Nga- Puhi oil on canvas 595 x 493 mm / 962 x 858 mm framed

Katarina Nikorima oil on canvas 610 x 510 mm / 990 x 885 mm framed

Wiripine Ninia, Nga-ti Awa oil on wood panel 191 x 140 mm / 417 x 375 mm framed

signed and dated with brush point middle right, C.F. Goldie, Auckland NZ, 1903; Original label affixed verso, inscribed, a model for the picture entitled “Memories”, Harata Rewiri Tarapata a Cheiftainess of the Ngapuhi Tribe, Bay of Islands. Widow of the late Chief Paul Tuhaere of Orakei Auckland.” Accompanying label attached verso, inscribed; I enclose also the particulars of the Harata for which you wrote on April 20th, in the picture Memories. I am Yours Faithfully, C.F. Goldie.

signed and dated with brush point upper right, C.F. Goldie, 1910; inscribed verso, Nikorima and Nicotima (sale no) No.5 by C.F. Goldie 1910, sale price £38.10s. Original frame

signed and dated with brush point top left C.F. Goldie 1911; inscribed verso, Drowsy, Wiripine Ninia, A Cheiftainess of the Ngatiawa Tribe by C.F. Goldie, Auckland. Original frame

Provenance: Auckland Society of Arts Exhibition, 1910, £45; N.Z. Academy of Fine Arts Annual Exhibition, 1910,£38.10s; Wairarapa Art Exhibition, September 1962; GOLDIE, Auckland Art Gallery Exhibition, 1997 (catalogue number 57); Collection of Solitaire Lodge, Lake Tarawera, Private Collection, Auckland

Provenance: Webb’s auction, 27th November 1986; GOLDIE, Auckland Art Gallery Exhibition, 1997 (catalogue number 67); Private Collection, Nelson

Provenance: Private Collection, Sotheby’s auction, London 17 May 1970, GOLDIE, Auckland Art Gallery Exhibition, 1997 (catalogue number 52); Private Collection, Auckland Published: Auckland Star (4 April 1970); Sotheby’s Catalogue (14 May 1970) p.148 (reproduced in black and white); Glen, J. & Taylor, A., (1977) C.F. Goldie: His Life and Paintings, Martinborough. Colour plate 17, p.74 and p.188

Published: Auckland Society of Arts Exhibition Catalogue (1910); NZ Academy of Fine Arts Annual Exhibition Catalogue (1910), NZ Free Lance, 8 October (1910), p.11, Wairarapa Art Exhibition Catalogue (September 1962); Glen, J. & Taylor, A., (1977) C.F. Goldie: His Life and Paintings, Martinborough. Colour plate 28, p. 96 and p. 213; Blackley, R. (1997), Goldie, Auckland Art Gallery, p. 143

Published: Glen, J. & Taylor, A., (1977) C.F. Goldie: His Life and Paintings, Martinborough, p. 219


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5. A Noble Northern Chief, 1912

6. Life’s Long Day Closes, 1917

7. A Centenarian, 1920

Atama Paparangi, Te Rarawa oil on canvas laid onto board 310 x 305 mm / 380 x 370 mm framed

Atama Paparangi, Te Rarawa oil on canvas laid onto board 255 x 205 mm / 480 x 430 mm framed

signed and dated with brush point top left, C.F. Goldie, 1912; inscribed verso, A Noble Northern Chief, Atama Paparangi by C.F. Goldie, original label affixed verso, Chief of the Rarawa Tribe, lived in Mitimiti, Hokianga and fought at Okaihau with Hone Heke. He last visited Auckland in 1901 and died in 1917 at the age of about 100 years. Original frame

signed and dated with brush point top left, C.F. Goldie, 1917. Original label affixed verso, inscribed Life’s Long Day Closes, Atama Paparangi, A Rarawa Chieftain by C.F. Goldie. Original frame

Kapi Kapi or Ahinara Te Rangitautini, Tu-hourangi oil on canvas laid onto board 376 x 337 mm / 608 x 557 mm framed

Provenance: Private Collection, Auckland Published: Glen, J. & Taylor, A., (1977) C.F. Goldie: His Life and Paintings, Martinborough, p. 223

Provenance: Private Collection, Auckland Society of Arts Exhibition Catalogue, 1917, £18.18s Private Collection, Auckland Published: Auckland Society of Arts Exhibition Catalogue, 1917; Glen, J. & Taylor, A., (1977) C.F. Goldie: His Life and Paintings, Martinborough, p. 244

9. A Good Joke, 1910 chromolithograph 390 x 320 mm Based on the painting ‘All’e Same t’e Pakeha’, 1905 Te Aho-te-Rangi Wharepu, Ngati Mahuta

signed and dated with brush point, top left, C.F.Goldie, 1920; Original label affixed verso, inscribed “A Centenarian”, Kapi Kapi a Cheiftainess of the Tuhourangi Tribe aged 102 years, C.F. Goldie, Kapi Kapi was a survivor of the Tarawera Eruption. Provenance: Private Collection, Auckland Society of Arts Exhibition, 1919, £16.16s, Private Collection, Auckland Published: Auckland Society of Arts Exhibition Catalogue, 1919, Glen, J. & Taylor, A., (1977) C.F. Goldie: His Life and Paintings, Martinborough, p. 256

8. As Rembrandt Would Have Painted the Ma-ori, 1933 Hera Puna, Nga-ti Whanaunga oil on canvas laid onto board 355 x 305 mm / 675 x 615 mm framed signed and dated with brush point top left, C.F. Goldie 1933; John Leech Gallery, Auckland, label affixed verso (faded). Original frame Provenance: Purchased John Leech Gallery, Auckland, 5 August 1947, £157.10s, Cordy’s auction, Auckland, 12 December 1969, $3650, Dunbar Sloane auction, Wellington, 1 August 1974, $8,750; Webb’s auction, 20th September 1984; GOLDIE, Auckland Art Gallery Exhibition, 1997 (catalogue number 132); Private Collection, Auckland Published: NZ Herald (6 December 1969); NZ Herald (13 December 1969) p.3; Evening Post, (24 July 1974) p.1 (reproduced in black and white); Dominion (2 August 1974) p.1; Evening Post (2 August 1974), p.12; Glen, J. & Taylor, A., (1977) C.F. Goldie: His Life and Paintings, Martinborough, p. 266


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PUBLISHED ON THE OCCASION OF THE EXHIBITION

AS REMBRANDT WOULD HAVE PAINTED THE MAORI AT GOW LANGSFORD GALLERY, KITCHENER ST, 15 MAY – 8 JUNE 2013 Front cover image: Memories, 1903 Image opposite: A Good Joke, 1910 Design: Awilaway Design, www.awilaway.co.nz Photography: Tobias Kraus, www.tobiaskraus.com Publication coordinator: Anna Jackson Text: essay by Roger Blackley and introduction by Anna Jackson 2013 All text and images copyright the artists and authors and Gow Langsford Gallery

©

ISBN: 978-0-9864630-4-4


Charles F. Goldie: As Rembrandt Would Have Painted the Maori 2013  

Charles F. Goldie is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s most famous artists and Gow Langsford Gallery is delighted to host As Rembrandt Would...