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Gottfried Lindauer’s ‘big OE’

Rebecca Rice on overseas exhibitions of Lindauer’s portraits of Māori


<P data-associrn="141363"></P> <P data-associrn="141365"></P> <P>This year, Gottfried Lindauer’s M&#257;ori portraits have been packing a punch overseas. Two hugely popular exhibitions, the first in Berlin (November 2014&#8211;March 2015) and the second in Pilsen, Lindauer’s hometown (until 20 September), constitute the largest solo show of a New Zealand painter in Europe since Colin McCahon’s <EM>A Question of Faith</EM> toured to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 2002.</P> <P>Most works in the exhibitions are drawn from the extensive collection of Lindauer’s work built up by Auckland businessman Henry Partridge in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and now in the care of Auckland Art Gallery. These are joined by several works from Te Papa, including the fabulous portrait pair of Mr and Mrs Paramena. <P>This is not the first time Lindauer’s portraits of M&#257;ori have been on an ‘overseas experience’. This essay explores their earlier forays&nbsp; onto the world stage within the context of the great 19th-century international exhibitions. </P> <P><BR><STRONG>Lindauer’s M&#257;ori at home and abroad</STRONG></P> <BLOCKQUOTE style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr> <P align=left><EM>One of the most attractive features in the Exhibition is the series of Maori pictures of life-size painted by Herr Lindauer, an Austrian artist, to the order of Dr Buller, by whom they are exhibited.<SUP><FONT size=2>1</FONT></SUP></P></BLOCKQUOTE></EM> <P>This high praise was directed at the display of Lindauer’s paintings in the 1885 <EM>New Zealand Industrial Exhibition</EM>, held in Wellington to draw together exhibits for London’s spectacular <EM>Colonial and Indian Exhibition</EM> in 1886. These portraits were a central and eye-catching component of the Maori Court in the London exhibition, but many visitors were not impressed. Critics declared that the ‘New Zealand courts at the “Colinderies” partake too much of the character of a museum and a Maori curiosity show’.<SUP><FONT size=2>2</FONT></SUP> This highlights a tension that permeated the colony’s presence at international exhibitions around the globe in the 19th and 20th centuries. Like so many other countries, New Zealand attempted to represent both its advancement, by displaying products manufactured from colonial raw materials, and its uniqueness, primarily by showcasing the remarkable landscape and M&#257;ori culture. While it may be argued that Gottfried Lindauer’s paintings fulfilled this latter function, their inclusion raises questions around the role of art, as well as the representation of M&#257;ori at international exhibitions from the 1880s to the early 20th century.</P> <P><STRONG>‘A sharp intelligent man is wanted. Tattooing not necessary’</STRONG></P> <P>At the first four exhibitions at which New Zealand had a significant presence &#8211; Vienna (1873), Philadelphia (1876), Sydney (1879) and Melbourne (1880) &#8211; M&#257;ori were represented in photographs, as well as by inanimate artefacts such as clothing and tools, which could be seen to stand in for and represent the absent body. However, they were largely absent from New Zealand’s fine art displays, which focused on landscapes, in the interests of promoting immigration.</P> <P data-associrn="1500983"></P> <P>Nor were living M&#257;ori included in exhibitions as ‘spectacles’ which was a common (if problematic) practice at international exhibitions.<SUP><FONT size=2>3</FONT></SUP> The desire, however, was certainly there. The first efforts to exhibit M&#257;ori at an international exhibition arose during preparations for the <EM>Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition</EM> in 1876. The New South Wales Commissioner, Mr R Cameron, offered to pay for the passage of a M&#257;ori to Philadelphia, meaning the only cost to the New Zealand Government would be £65 to ‘keep’ a M&#257;ori for six months, ‘a considerable part of which will be saved by his being employed to keep the New Zealand Court in order’.<SUP><FONT size=2>4</FONT></SUP> It was suggested that ‘if Mr Cameron’s offer is accepted the colony will be indebted to him for attracting to it more attention than usually falls to the lot of a miscellaneous collection of raw products’.<SUP><FONT size=2>5</FONT></SUP> The prerequisites for an appropriate M&#257;ori were few. A quickly drafted telegram stated: ‘He must have a good Maori costume or two … A sharp intelligent man is wanted. Tattooing not necessary’.<SUP><FONT size=2>6</FONT></SUP> Unfortunately, the two who were forthcoming did not meet these standards. Walter Mantell, the New Zealand commissioner to Philadelphia, reported that ‘only two ‘seedy’ representatives of the race [had] responded to his call, both of whom had bolted from their wives’.<SUP><FONT size=2>7</FONT></SUP></P> <P data-associrn="1502589"></P> <P>Three years later, in 1879, attempts to send M&#257;orii to the <EM>Sydney International Exhibition</EM> to erect the whare whakairo (meeting house) <EM>Mataatua</EM> were also unsuccessful. This may have led to the inappropriate installation of the carvings on the exterior rather than the interior walls of the whare, meaning they were exposed to the full blast of a Sydney summer. M&#257;ori were in Sydney at the same time as the exhibition, but as part of a concert party, not official representatives. They were described as thirty to forty ‘good specimens of the average Maori’ from Ng&#257;ti Maru, who, under the direction of Captain Ferris, collector of M&#257;ori artefacts and entrepreneur, gave ‘war dances and illustrations of life and manners for the delectation of the visitors to the Sydney Exhibition’.<SUP><FONT size=2>8</FONT></SUP> <SUP><FONT size=2>9</FONT></SUP> The reception of these performances was lukewarm. One reviewer commented: ‘the old country and not a rival colony is the only place where any show of this description will meet with the success it deserves’.<SUP><FONT size=2>10</FONT></SUP> The Maori performers were equally unimpressed, and ‘finding the restraint of lodgings irksome, and the rent expensive, [they] went down to one of the bays, built themselves <EM>whares</EM> (houses), and fished and eat [sic] molluscs, and generally seemed very happy’.<SUP><FONT size=2>11</FONT></SUP></P> <P>In response to the concern regarding the absence of living M&#257;ori at the 1886 <EM>Colonial and Indian Exhibition</EM> in London, a visiting colonist observed:</P> <BLOCKQUOTE style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr> <P align=left>There are no groups of natives here like there are in some of the other Courts, but then a Maori is no real novelty to the people of London. They had [M&#257;ori King] Tawhiao there lately, and he used to go along the streets and give them a free Maori show nearly all the time he was there.<SUP><FONT size=2>12</FONT></SUP></P></BLOCKQUOTE> <P data-associrn="1500079"></P> <P>Instead, wax mannequins were made for the London display. Three adult figures &#8211; a tattooed M&#257;ori chief and woman standing by the carved porch of a p&#257;taka (storehouse), and another woman ‘wearing the usual mat in shawl-fashion’, shown ‘in the act of gathering provisions from this storehouse’ &#8211; invigorated the tableaux and created a believable impression of ‘Maori at home’.<SUP><FONT size=2>13</FONT></SUP> Along with a rich collection of taonga, largely drawn from Walter Buller’s personal collection, the p&#257;taka and figures were a central focus of the Maori Court at London.</P> <P><STRONG>Lindauer’s <EM>The Maori at Home</EM></STRONG></P> <P>However, the works that were apparently the first to ‘claim attention’, and which provided the strongest sense of M&#257;ori presence at London, were 13 paintings by Lindauer, also from Buller’s collection.<SUP><FONT size=2>14</FONT></SUP> These paintings represented a full range of M&#257;ori stereotypes. They included the savage <EM>Matene te Matuku, a Former Man-eater</EM> representing a ‘Maori of the old school’, the ‘brave’ Hitiri Paerata, the Hero of Orakau, and portraits of several alluring female figures: Hana Reupena, a Ng&#257ti Maru woman with a child ‘furtively peeping from the corners of its eyes’, Ngairo, the ‘pet of the tribe’, and Isabella, the ‘half-caste’.<SUP><FONT size=2>15</FONT></SUP></P> <P data-associrn="1500080"></P> <P>Perhaps the most impressive of these, at least in terms of scale (the work measures nearly three by two metres), was <EM>The Maori at Home</EM>, a full-length study of Harawira Mahikai, described as a ‘grand old chief’ and one of the ‘few survivors of those who signed the Treaty in 1840’. This painting was also distinctive in terms of its composition. In contrast to the more usual Lindauer portrait, which focused on the head and shoulders of the subject with little contextual background, The <EM>Maori at Home</EM> is a large-scale painting depicting the chief standing in front of a whare r&#363;nanga (meeting house) with his third wife seated beside him. This work provided a means for audiences to imagine the Maori ‘at home’ &#8211; a fitting complement to the p&#257;taka and wax figures.</P> <P>While these works were highly acclaimed for their artistic skill, their apparent ‘authenticity’ was also crucial to the role they played in London. Descriptions emphasised the faithfulness of Lindauer’s portraits - the fact that they were ‘typical’ subjects in ‘characteristic’ M&#257;ori costume.<SUP><FONT size=2>16</FONT></SUP> Consequently, displayed in this context alongside M&#257;ori objects, Lindauer’s paintings were read as relics of a race that was thought by Buller and others to be ‘dying out’. As early as 1851, New Zealand Governor George Grey had recommended that artists become familiar with M&#257;ori culture, so that ‘the romantic glow of a primitive state of existence might be imparted to some works of art’.<SUP><FONT size=2>17</FONT></SUP> This was reinforced in London by the fact that New Zealand’s fine arts were displayed in two separate venues at London: alongside other colonies in a fine art display in the Royal Albert Hall; and in the New Zealand Court itself. This exhibiting strategy aroused great consternation, as the fine arts were felt to be ‘divorced … from the rest of the colonial exhibits’.<SUP><FONT size=2>18</FONT></SUP> The commissioners defended this approach, asserting:</P> <BLOCKQUOTE style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr> <P>It is not the artistic point of view that we have to consider … We should, of course, understand that the pictures would not be selected for their artistic merit, but for their <EM>truthfulness</EM> and <EM>descriptive</EM> excellence .<SUP><FONT size=2>19</FONT></SUP> </P></BLOCKQUOTE> <P>Gottfried Lindauer was reportedly dissatisfied with the fact that 12 of the 13 paintings by him appeared in the Maori Court rather than in the Royal Albert Hall, because the subjects were M&#257;ori.<SUP><FONT size=2>20</FONT></SUP> There, they were kept company by Alfred Burton’s series of photographs also titled <EM>The Maori at Home</EM>, made on a trip up the Whanganui River in 1885. These photographs showed a stark and vastly different view of contemporary M&#257;ori life to Lindauer’s portraits, in a medium deprived of the ‘air-brushing’ potential of painting.</P> <P data-associrn="1500081""></P> <P>Back in New Zealand, Lindauer’s <EM>The Maori at Home</EM> was secured for the <EM>New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition</EM> in Dunedin, 1889. There, its place was in the Early History and South Seas Court, a curious conflation of colonial and Pacific history organised by the collector and antiquarian Thomas Hocken. English Pre-Raphaelite painter James Smetham’s <EM>The New Zealand Chiefs in Wesley’s House</EM>, made on the occasion of the visit of a number of M&#257;ori to England in 1863, was also shown in this court.<SUP><FONT size=2>21</FONT></SUP> The M&#257;ori in Smetham’s work are, like Lindauer’s subjects, depicted in traditional cloaks and accessories, but these are clearly worn over their European dress. Further, these subjects are not depicted ‘at home’ in New Zealand, but instead are looking relatively at ease ‘at Home’ in England, seated in a comfortable living room with their hosts.</P> <P data-associrn="1500082"></P> <P>In the 1890s, Henry Partridge’s collection was made available for local exhibitions. In preparations for the <EM>Auckland Industrial Exhibition</EM> of 1899 and the <EM>Canterbury Jubilee Exhibition</EM> of 1900, the organising committees proudly anticipated the attention these portraits would receive. In these local contexts, Lindauer’s works were displayed in the ‘fine art’ sections of the exhibitions, in contrast to their positioning in London and Dunedin. Nonetheless, the subjects of the paintings commanded as much attention as the skill of the artist. At the opening in Auckland it was reported that a ‘double row of tatooed [sic] Maori warriors and wahines (women) from Lindauer’s skilful brush looked down upon a scene such as in their lifetime they never knew or dreamed of’.<SUP><FONT size=2>22</FONT></SUP></P> <P data-associrn="1500077"></P> <P><STRONG>An uneasy reception in St Louis</STRONG></P> <P>From 1901, Partridge began commissioning paintings from Lindauer that illustrated M&#257;ori traditions, myths and everyday life, rather than portraits. Two of these, <EM>Tohunga under tapu</EM>, from about 1902, and <EM>The Tohunga-ta-moko at work</EM>, 1903, were among a range of paintings shown at the <EM>Louisiana Purchase Exposition</EM> (also known as the St Louis World’s Fair) in St Louis, Missouri in 1904.<SUP><FONT size=2>23</FONT></SUP> The latter showed an American public the ‘really terrible operation involved by the old Maori custom of tattooing’.<SUP><FONT size=2>24</FONT></SUP> A photograph of the installation of the New Zealand display in the Forestry, Fish and Game Building in St Louis includes <EM>Tohunga under tapu</EM> as a central work amidst an eclectic arrangement of objects, with portraits of M&#257;ori by Lindauer and landscapes surmounted by fish trophies and the mounted heads of deer and stags.</P> <P>This bizarre arrangement reflected the fact that New Zealand’s displays abroad were now being organised by the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts instead of museum directors and collectors . Instead of promoting immigration, they presented propaganda aimed at leisured tourists. This foregrounding of the ‘exotic’ M&#257;ori backfired in St Louis. The inclusion of M&#257;ori content in the American context was seen as problematic by some reviewers who felt that the prejudice towards native peoples in America inflected their understanding of New Zealand’s tangata whenua (the people of Aotearoa New Zealand).<SUP><FONT size=2>25</FONT></SUP> Thomas Edward Donne, the Tourist Department’s director who curated the exhibition, conceded that in the future it would be better to emphasise the landscape and show how people lived in contemporary New Zealand, accompanied by a focus on the achievements of present-day M&#257;ori, as opposed to those of their ancestors.</P> <P>Revealingly, this was the last major overseas exhibition of Lindauer’s works until their return to the world stage in Berlin in 2014. Lindauer’s paintings suffered an inexorable decline in prestige through the 20th century. It wasn’t until the turn of the 21st century that their bicultural origins were acknowledged and they became reconnected with their tribal descendants and won new acclaim. Since then, they have again become, as a particularly perceptive reviewer noted in 1903, ‘virtually priceless, whether regarded from an historical, ethnological, or artistic standpoint’.<SUP><FONT size=2>26</FONT></SUP></P> <P><EM>This is an edited version of an essay written for the catalogue accompanying the Berlin exhibition of Lindauer's paintings.</EM></P> <P><FONT size=2><BR>Endnotes</FONT size=2></P> <OL> <LI><FONT size=2><EM>New Zealand Industrial Exhibition, 1885, Wellington: The Official Record</EM>, Wellington: Government Printer, 1885, p. 148.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘The Indian and Colonial Exhibition’, <EM>Hawke’s Bay Herald</EM>, 10 August 1886, p. 2</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>While various M&#257;ori groups were present on the fringes of earlier exhibitions, the spectacle of the ethnographic village was properly initiated in association with the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889. See for example Curtis M. Hinsley, ‘The World as Marketplace: Commodification of the Exotic at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893’, Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine (eds.), <EM>Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display</EM>, Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991, pp. 344-365.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>Hon Walter Mantell to the New Zealand Commission, 15 April 1876, New York, Te Papa Archives, MU000177, Philadelphia Exhibition: registered correspondence, no. 253.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>Hon Walter Mantell to the New Zealand Commission, 15 April 1876, New York, Te Papa Archives, MU000177, Philadelphia Exhibition: registered correspondence, no. 253.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>TE Young, Native Department, 27 May 1876, Te Papa Archives, MU000177, Philadelphia Exhibition: registered correspondence. </FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>Mantell to Hector, cited in ‘Wellington Philosophical Society’, <EM>New Zealand Mail</EM>, 5 August 1876, p. 6.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘A Maori Exhibition’, in <EM>Auckland Weekly News</EM>, 11 October 1879, p. 2.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>Ibid</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘The International Exhibition at Sydney’, in: <EM>New Zealand Mail</EM>, 8 November 1879, p. 23.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘Wellington Philosophical Society: Dr Hector’s Report’, in <EM>New Zealand Mail</EM>, 17 January 1880, p. 6.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>Canterbury Times, 2 July 1886, clipping in Haast Family Papers, folder 13. MS-Papers-0037, Wellington, Alexander Turnbull Library.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2><EM>Illustrated London News</EM>, 2 October 1886, p. 364.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2><EM>The Times</EM>, 24 July 1886, clipping in Haast Family Papers, MS-Papers 0037, ATL, folder 1.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2><EM>New Zealand Industrial Exhibition, 1885, Wellington: The Official Record</EM>, Wellington: Government Printer, 1885, pp. 148–49.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘The Colonial and Indian Exhibition’, <EM>Auckland Star</EM>, 18 September 1886, p. 5.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>Quoted in Leonard Bell, <EM>Colonial Constructs: European Images of Maori 1840–1914</EM>, Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1992, p. 147.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘The Colonial and Indian Exhibition’, <EM>New Zealand Mail</EM>, 20 August 1886, p. 19.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘Minutes of meeting of New Zealand Commissioners held at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition’, 19 July 1886, Haast Family Papers, ATL : MS-Papers-0037, folder 1, 8.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>Ibid</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘The Early History, Maori and South Seas Court, no. XII’, <EM>Otago Witness</EM>, 27 March 1890, p. 17.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2><EM>Auckland Star</EM>, 22 December 1898, p. 6.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>See Leonard Bell, ‘Lindauer’s Paintings of Maori Customs and Legends’, <EM>Colonial Constructs: European Images of Maori 1840-1914,</EM> Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1992, for a consideration of this body of Lindauer’s work.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘New Zealand as a Tourist Resort’, <EM>Hawera &amp; Normanby Star</EM>, 7 September 1904, p. 2.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘The New Zealand Exhibit at the World’s Fair: A Retrospect’, <EM>Auckland Star</EM>, 24 December 1904, p. 3.</FONT></LI> <LI><FONT size=2>‘Pars about People’, <EM>The Observer</EM>, 3 October 1903, p. 4.<BR></FONT></LI></OL> <P>&nbsp;</P>
image

Gottfried Lindauer, Mr Paramena, circa 1885, oil on canvas,
Purchased 1995 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

image

Gottfried Lindauer, Mrs Paramena, circa 1885, oil on canvas,
Purchased 1995 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

Centennial Photographic Co., &lt;EM&gt;New Zealand Section – Main Building&lt;/EM&gt;, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition 1876, 1876, silver albumen print.

Centennial Photographic Co., New Zealand Section – Main Building, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition 1876, 1876, silver albumen print. ,
Free Library of Philadelphia, Print and Picture Department

Photographer unknown, &lt;EM&gt;Mataatua&lt;/EM&gt; erected at Sydney International Exhibition, 1879, black and white photograph, gelatin silver print. Te Papa MU000014/005/0011/0043

Photographer unknown, Mataatua erected at Sydney International Exhibition, 1879, black and white photograph, gelatin silver print. Te Papa MU000014/005/0011/0043

Engraver unknown, ‘Maori storehouse in the native section’, &lt;EM&gt;Illustrated London News&lt;/EM&gt;, 2 October 1886.

Engraver unknown, ‘Maori storehouse in the native section’, Illustrated London News, 2 October 1886.

Gottfried Lindauer, &lt;EM&gt;The Maori at Home [Harawira Mahikai Te Tatere]&lt;/EM&gt;, 1885, oil on canvas.

Gottfried Lindauer, The Maori at Home [Harawira Mahikai Te Tatere], 1885, oil on canvas. ,
Whanganui Regional Museum Collection (1928.57.1)

Photographer unknown, ‘The New Zealand Court in the Forestry, Fish and Game Building at the World’s Fair’, &lt;EM&gt;The N. Z. Illustrated Magazine&lt;/EM&gt;, November 1904, p. 82.

Photographer unknown, ‘The New Zealand Court in the Forestry, Fish and Game Building at the World’s Fair’, The N. Z. Illustrated Magazine, November 1904, p. 82.

James Smetham, &lt;EM&gt;The New Zealand Chiefs in Wesley’s House&lt;/EM&gt;, 1863, oil on panel

James Smetham, The New Zealand Chiefs in Wesley’s House, 1863, oil on panel ,
Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago

Gottfried Lindauer, &lt;EM&gt;Tohunga under Tapu&lt;/EM&gt;, circa 1902 oil on canvas

Gottfried Lindauer, Tohunga under Tapu, circa 1902 oil on canvas ,
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, gift of Mr H E Partridge, 1915 1915/2/50