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Working with Goldie

Roger Blackley on <EM>Kanohi Kitea</EM> | <EM>Maori & Pacific Encounters</EM>


<P data-associrn="263478"></P> <P>Charles Frederick Goldie (1870-1947) is New Zealand’s best-known colonial artist, famous in both M&#257;ori and P&#257;keh&#257; worlds for his hyper-realistic, nostalgic portrayals of elderly M&#257;ori subjects. Though the paintings have always been prized commodities in the art market, their status as works of art has been contested. Are they significant portrayals of M&#257;ori ancestors, worthy of honour on the part of successive generations? Or might they be complicit with the pernicious colonial myth of the ‘dying race’, memorialising the passing of a conquered culture? Could they be a unique variant of European orientalism, tailored for a particular colonial context, or are they merely academic dross? </P> <P><STRONG>Afternoon tea in the studio</STRONG></P> <P>The famous Edwards Studio photograph of Goldie and his model P&#257;tara Te Tuhi appeared over the title ‘Afternoon Tea in the Studio’ in the November 1901 issue of the <EM>New Zealand Illustrated Magazine</EM> - a compelling publicity image orchestrated by a 30-year-old artist poised on the threshold of an illustrious career. Goldie was familiar with similar promotional imagery from his student years in Paris; there, his master William Bouguereau had had himself depicted in a studio that doubled as an opulent showroom. He knew that such photographs operated as special tokens, signed by the artist for favoured friends and prospective clients. And he also knew that achieving a profile in a national magazine, particularly one dedicated to art and literature, was an important step in the consolidation of his reputation.</P> <P>Seated at the heart of the composition is the venerable P&#257;tara Te Tuhi of Ng&#257;ti Mahuta, one of the earliest of the models that Michael Dunn referred to as recently as 1991 as Goldie’s ‘rest home Maori s decked out often in old-time cloaks, tikis and pendants and wearing the <EM>moko</EM> [tattoo] that was by then a fast dying art’.<SUP><FONT size=2>1</FONT></SUP> The photograph tells us that P&#257;tara had partly disrobed for the task - his hat, shirt, waistcoat, and walking stick are visible on the left, while his everyday trousers and boots protrude beneath the cloak. However, it would be wrong to dismiss the elderly M&#257;ori chief as little more than a passive prop manipulated by the P&#257;keh&#257; artist. </P> <P>By staging a moment of rest, the photograph emphasises the collaborative nature of the work in the studio, as well as the hospitality that was offered. P&#257;tara’s status as a celebrity is signalled both through his central position in the photograph and by his ‘doubling’ in the form of the almost completed painting. Goldie is effectively announcing his ‘acquisition’ of one of the most famous survivors from the pre-colonial M&#257;ori past. Collaboration with high-status models, like P&#257;tara, was an important driver of Goldie’s own celebrity.</P> <P data-associrn="1366539"></P> <P><STRONG>The ‘old warrior’</STRONG></P> <P>The title of the work on the easel, <EM>Patara Te Tuhi: An old warrior</EM>, is deceptive. P&#257;tara had certainly taken a leading role in the struggles that culminated in the disastrous wars between M&#257;ori tribes and the British Crown in the 1860s, but his renown related in large part to his status as the first M&#257;ori editor and printer of a M&#257;ori-language newspaper. The anti-colonial <EM>Te Hokioi o Niu-Tireni</EM> was issued between 1862 and 1863 from a printing press at Ng&#257;ruaw&#257;hia - the centre of the K&#299;ngitanga (M&#257;ori King) movement. The press had been a gift from Archduke Maximilian of Austria to two Waikato M&#257;ori who trained at the Royal Press in Vienna.</P> <P>P&#257;tara had also travelled overseas, participating in a three-month delegation to London led by his cousin and brother-in-law, King T&#257;whiao, in 1884. Although ultimately unsuccessful in its mission to lay M&#257;ori land grievances before Queen Victoria, the group experienced the myriad cultural treasures and entertainments on offer in the imperial capital. At country houses such as that of the colonial secretary, Lord Derby, P&#257;tara saw the European ancestral portrait tradition exposed in its full glory.</P> <P><STRONG>Sitting for Goldie</STRONG></P> <P>P&#257;tara’s introduction to Goldie came through a mutual friend, the bilingual journalist and historian James Cowan. In a biography of P&#257;tara, Cowan described the chief at work for Goldie:</P> <BLOCKQUOTE style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr> <P>Sitting for his portrait the other day in Mr Goldie’s studio, old Patara - with his wrinkled blue-carven face, a flax mat flung round his shoulders, a rare greenstone hei-tiki round his neck, a greenstone Kahurangi pendant in one ear and a shark’s-tooth, suspended by a black ribbon, in the other, and in his hand his treasured carved walking-staff … looked a strange centrepiece for the pictures, the bits of statuary casts, the Parisian figure types, and the other odds and ends which make up the furniture of an artist’s working-room.<SUP><FONT size=2>2</FONT></SUP></P></BLOCKQUOTE> <P>Cowan noted, however, that P&#257;tara was quite at home in the artist’s exotic workspace: </P> <BLOCKQUOTE style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr> <P>There was an artistic appreciation in his keen old eye, peering out from under deep corrugated eyebrows, as he took in the contents of the studio, and he chuckled reminiscently in the aboriginal fashion when he squinted at a little study of a shapely feminine “altogether” on the wall.</P></BLOCKQUOTE> <P>The memories were of the louche English women P&#257;tara had encountered in bustling Tiatakorosi (Charing Cross) in London: ‘shameless creatures, not like our M&#257;ori women’.</P> <P>Regardless of the ten shillings he earned per sitting, the extroverted P&#257;tara surely relished the camaraderie to be experienced at Goldie’s bohemian Auckland studio. Composer Alfred Hill tapped out tunes on the studio’s piano, while ethnologist Edward Tregear encouraged performances of ancient haka and waiata from the models. As well as being a tribal leader, P&#257;tara was a noted wood carver who had recently completed a carved house at Waahi for his nephew King Mahuta. In a similar fashion to his Te Arawa carving contemporaries Tene Waitere and &#256;naha Te R&#257;hui, P&#257;tara juggled customary duties with the production of spectacular pieces for P&#257;keh&#257; consumption. In Goldie’s studio, beyond his status as a historical personage, he would have enjoyed recognition as a contemporary artist in his own right.</P> <P><STRONG>M&#257;ori and portrait culture</STRONG></P> <P data-associrn="1366695"></P> <P>One of the pieces that P&#257;tara had worked on - a large model of the <EM>Tainui </EM>waka (canoe) - was shown at the South Seas Court of the Auckland Exhibition in 1898-99. The exhibition included an impressive loan of 24 portraits of notable M&#257;ori by the Bohemia-born, Vienna-trained artist Gottfried Lindauer (1839-1926) - works that that Goldie, freshly returned from almost five years’ study in Paris, must have scrutinised with interest. Though Goldie was in later years reportedly incensed by the eternal coupling of his name with Lindauer’s, his distinctive brand of M&#257;ori portraiture was nevertheless partly derived from the older artist’s example.</P> <P>In August 1901, P&#257;tara and his brother accompanied King Mahuta and the king’s immediate family to the Lindauer Gallery, which the Auckland businessman Henry Partridge had opened on Auckland’s Queen Street only three months earlier. James Cowan provided the <EM>Auckland Star</EM> with a translation of the speech that Mahuta made to the gallery’s visitors:</P> <BLOCKQUOTE style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr> <P>My heart fills with grief at the sight of these likenesses of my ancestors, my fathers and mothers. Salutations to all of you here assembled (addressing the pictures)! Greetings also to the man who painted the pictures, the owner of them and the person who has them in charge.<SUP><FONT size=2>3</FONT></SUP></P></BLOCKQUOTE> <P>The magnificent public display of Partridge’s Lindauer collection, by then comprising 40 portraits, served as a magnet for tourists, settlers, and M&#257;ori alike - the latter sometimes characterising themselves as ‘ng&#257; m&#333rehu’, the surviving remnant, come to salute their departed elders. Participation in the portrait culture of turn-of-the-century New Zealand was as much a M&#257;ori as a European affair.</P> <P data-associrn="1364114"></P> <P><STRONG>Patronage and collaboration</STRONG></P> <P>Lindauer’s highly successful business model was based on securing commissions from M&#257;ori clients who would pay handsomely for life-sized oil portraits. He could then top up his income by duplicating selected works for P&#257;keh&#257; collections. In 1885, for example, the Ng&#257;ti Maniapoto chief Wahanui Reihana Te Huatare paid £40 for his half-length portrait, from which replicas were subsequently created for Partridge and the collector Sir Walter Buller (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o T&#257;maki and Whanganui Regional Museum, respectively). Far from being Lindauer’s ‘greatest patrons’, as is so often stated, Partridge and Buller represented a secondary market. Gottfried Lindauer’s single most important patron was the M&#257;ori world at large, which collected his works in large numbers.</P> <P>Goldie’s work operated on a diametrically opposed financial model. Whereas M&#257;ori clients paid Lindauer to supply portraits they would then own, Goldie instead paid M&#257;ori to model for paintings that they knew would be offered at high prices on the art market. In addition to the sitting fees, however, collaboration with Goldie and the reproduction of the resulting work delivered a national profile. P&#257;tara Te Tuhi appears in another Goldie painting from 1901. <EM>A hot day</EM> was purchased for the Christchurch civic collection and widely distributed as a chromolithographic print: one of these prints must be the portrait reported as having been prominently displayed at P&#257;tara’s funeral in 1910. By then, the <EM>Hawera and Normanby Star</EM> noted, he was ‘probably the most-painted M&#257;ori in New Zealand’: ‘The old chief’s tattooed face has been made familiar by Mr C. F. Goldie’s brush to thousands of P&#257;keh&#257;s who have never heard anything about the man himself.’<SUP><FONT size=2>4</FONT></SUP></P> <P><STRONG>Goldie and the myth of the ‘dying race’</STRONG></P> <P>As an ‘old warrior’, P&#257;tara conforms to the mode of heroic portraiture established by Lindauer. In <EM>A hot day</EM>, however, he is an unidentified old man asleep in the sun. This sentimental style became a trademark of Goldie’s. Though his elegiac presentation of elderly M&#257;ori models is usually linked to the colonial trope of the dying race, a more nuanced reading is possible. </P> <P>By the turn of the 20th century it had become clear that, despite the fervent hopes of many colonists, M&#257;ori would not be expiring as required. In response to the increase in the M&#257;ori population recorded by the 1901 census, the artist’s brother William Goldie published an essay in which he argued that ‘transformation, not extinction, is the ultimate destiny of the race’, concluding that ‘the mixed race will be superior to either of the parent stocks’.<SUP><FONT size=2>5</FONT></SUP> What Charles Goldie thought of his brother’s utopian views we do not know, but assimilationist discourse enjoyed wide currency - and not just among P&#257;keh&#257;. Racial fusion ‘on the highest possible plane’ was an ideal embraced by Sir &#256;pirana Ngata and the Young M&#257;ori Party,<SUP><FONT size=2>6</FONT></SUP> while Native Minister William Herries gladly anticipated ‘the time when we shall have no M&#257;ori s at all, but a white race with a dash of the finest coloured race in the world’.<SUP><FONT size=2>7</FONT></SUP></P> <P>The ethnological discourse of vanishing ‘types’ was nonetheless prevalent in contemporary appraisals of Goldie’s paintings. Goldie’s models were construed by critics as belonging to the past, serving as ‘links between the original M&#257;ori and the M&#257;ori who is not original, but only imitative’.<SUP><FONT size=2>8</FONT></SUP> By recording ancient ‘types’, Goldie was thought to be salvaging the last of a noble line. As a <EM>New Zealand Herald</EM> reviewer put it in 1901, ‘The originals are fast disappearing … The type of P&#257;tara will be extinct in a few years’.<SUP><FONT size=2>9</FONT></SUP></P> <P><STRONG>The art of time travel</STRONG></P> <P>P&#257;tara would never have considered himself as a vanishing ‘type’. Based on his experience of English galleries, as well as venues such as the Lindauer Gallery, where M&#257;ori were welcomed as visitors, he likely conceived of portraits as time-travellers - a means by which he and others who worked with talented artists such as Goldie could appear before audiences of the future, audiences that might include one’s own descendants. </P> <P>It was the sentimental cargo of Goldie’s works as much as the hyper-realist technique that prompted their denigration by P&#257;keh&#257; modernists in the 20th century, extending even to charges of ‘coon humour’.<SUP><FONT size=2>10</FONT></SUP> That such views are absent from even the most radical of M&#257;ori commentaries underscores the tendentious basis of such claims. From a 21st-century vantage, we can recognise the works of Goldie and his ilk as some of the most distinctive New Zealand high-art productions of the late-colonial period. </P> <P>As depictions of ancestors and superlative works of art, enlivened by controversy and irreconcilable interpretations, Goldie’s paintings will continue to engage the broadest audiences for New Zealand art. As an <EM>Auckland Star</EM> columnist predicted in 1935, at the time of Goldie’s appointment as an officer of the British Empire: ‘It is a hard word to say, but this eminent New Zealand artist will be known long after the present generation is tucked away - and forgotten. … The others may not be known in 2035 A.D.’<SUP><FONT size=2>11</FONT></SUP></P> <P><STRONG><FONT size=2>Endnotes</FONT></STRONG></P> <OL> <LI><FONT size=2>Michael Dunn, <EM>A Concise History of New Zealand Painting</EM>, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1991, p. 33.</FONT> <LI><FONT size=2>James Cowan, ‘Patara, the Scribe: Cannibal and Editor’, <EM>Star</EM>, 18 February 1902, p. 4. </FONT> <LI><FONT size=2><EM>Auckland Star</EM>, 30 August 1901, p. 4.</FONT> <LI><FONT size=2>‘A Notable M&#257;ori ’, <EM>Hawera and Normanby Star</EM>, 6 July 1910, p. 8.</FONT> <LI><FONT size=2>WD Goldie, ‘The Destiny of the M&#257;ori Race’, <EM>Auckland Weekly News</EM>, 21 May 1901, p. 9.</FONT> <LI><FONT size=2>‘The Destiny of the M&#257;ori ’, <EM>Hawera and Normanby Star</EM>, 17 July 1909, p. 4.</FONT> <LI><FONT size=2>Cited in Ranginui Walker, <EM>He Tipua: The life and times of Sir Apirana Ngata</EM>, Penguin, Auckland, 2001, p. 176.</FONT> <LI><FONT size=2>‘Auckland Society of Arts’, <EM>New Zealand Herald</EM>, 13 July 1905, p. 6.</FONT> <LI><FONT size=2>‘Auckland Society of Arts Exhibition’, <EM>New Zealand Herald</EM>, 1 November 1901, p. 3.</FONT> <LI><FONT size=2>Jim Barr, quoted in the<EM> Evening Post</EM>, 12 December 1990, p. 9.</FONT> <LI><FONT size=2>‘The Passing Show’, <EM>Auckland Star</EM>, 5 June 1935, p. 6.</FONT></LI></OL> <P><STRONG>Roger Blackley</STRONG> teaches art history at Victoria University of Wellington, where he specialises in 19th-century and colonial art. In his former role as curator of historical New Zealand art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o T&#257;maki, he organised a number of exhibitions and associated publications including <EM>Two Centuries of New Zealand Landscape Art</EM> (1990) and <EM>Goldie</EM> (1997). At Victoria he has produced two exhibitions for the Adam Art Gallery: <EM>Stray Leaves</EM> (2001) examined the colonial tradition of trompe l’œil, while <EM>Te Mata: The ethnological portrait</EM> (2008) profiled a collection of Maori portrait busts produced by Nelson Illingworth in 1908.</P>
image

Robert Love, C. F. Goldie in his studio with Patara te Tuhi, 1901, black and white photograph, platinum print,
Purchased 1963.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

C F Goldie, &lt;EM&gt;Patara Te Tuhi, An Old Warrior&lt;/EM&gt; 1901, oil on canvas, 765 x 635 mm, Auckland War Memorial Museum PB30(7)

C F Goldie, Patara Te Tuhi, An Old Warrior 1901, oil on canvas, 765 x 635 mm, Auckland War Memorial Museum PB30(7) ,
Courtesy of Auckland War Memorial Museum

C F Goldie,&lt;EM&gt; A Hot Day,&lt;/EM&gt; 1901, oil on canvas, 437 x 359 mm, Collection: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

C F Goldie, A Hot Day, 1901, oil on canvas, 437 x 359 mm, Collection: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

Gottfried Lindauer, &lt;EM&gt;Wahanui Reihana Te Huatare&lt;/EM&gt;, oil on canvas, 1022 x 838 x 50 mm, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki 1915/2/70, gift of Mr H E Partridge, 1915
Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image

Gottfried Lindauer, Wahanui Reihana Te Huatare, oil on canvas, 1022 x 838 x 50 mm, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki 1915/2/70, gift of Mr H E Partridge, 1915 Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image