Auckland Art Gallery is appealing to the public to help uncover more Māori and pākehā portraits by artist Gottfried Lindauer.
It is estimated there are more than 100 original paintings by the prolific 19th-century portraitist yet to be discovered.
Newly found portraits will help further the Gallery’s research for an extensive exhibition about the artist that will open at Auckland Art Gallery in October.
Auckland Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport says Lindauer’s paintings are national treasures.
‘They document an important period in our country’s history and are proudly displayed in gallery and museum collections throughout New Zealand,’ she says.
The Gallery’s Curator of Māori Art Nigel Borell says however there are still many more paintings yet to surface that remain stored in family collections or tucked away in forgotten circumstances.
‘We want to piece together the puzzle of Lindauer’s prolific painting career to learn more about him,’ he says.
‘These Lindauer artworks could be sitting on mantelpieces, in marae meetinghouses, forgotten under beds or at grandparents’ houses around the country.’
Borell says the team at Auckland Art Gallery wants to hear from Lindauer portrait holders.
‘We’d like to gauge just how many portraits might be out in the world.’
Lindauer’s portraits of Māori chiefs and leaders of the 19th and early 20th centuries remain hugely significant as records and reminders of New Zealand’s history and heritage.
Gottfried Lindauer painted both Māori and Pākehā portraits and enjoyed a close working relationships with the people he painted.
One portrait, known as Heeni Hirini and child, is estimated to have been painted by the artist up to 30 times throughout the course of his career.
Borell says he is aware of 12 versions of Heeni Hirini and child but would like to find more, to ‘substantiate the estimation and build a more accurate picture of this fascinating painter’.
Another mystery concerns the lost portraits of Lindauer’s patrons: Sir Walter Buller and Henry Partridge. Both men commissioned the artist to paint many portraits, including portraits of themselves, however the whereabouts of both portraits remain unknown.
It is known that some of Lindauer’s portraits have perished in fires, some have been given away in disrepair and some have been misplaced.
Borell says that uncovering further examples of original Lindauer paintings would be extremely significant for New Zealand art historians, tribal descendants and cultural historians.
Borell is working on the project with guest curator Ngahiraka Mason, whom began this in-depth study of Lindauer’s work back in 1999 when she was the Gallery’s first Curator of Māori Art.
If you think you have a Lindauer painting or have information on the whereabouts of an original Gottfried Lindauer artwork, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org