Artwork Description / Detail
Charles Frederick Goldie is one of New Zealand’s most illustrious and successful painters of the nineteenth century. His Māori portraits provide a magnificent historical insight into the life and times of New Zealand’s indigenous people.
Goldie’s early art training was completed under the tutelage of Louis John Steele. Goldie then went travelled to Paris to attend the Académie Julian. He also undertook anatomy drawing at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He was consistently awarded prizes in various competitions and in 1896 he received a gold medal for life painting, a tribute to his mastery of the photo-realist technique. On his return to Auckland Goldie shared a studio with his former teacher Steele and in 1898 they collectively completed the famous historical piece The Arrival of the Māoris in New Zealand. In 1900 Goldie held his first exhibition of Pakeha and Māori portraits in Auckland, and from this time his career and status steadily increased. Eventually Goldie came to be recognised as Auckland’s finest art teacher and painter and it was during this time that he began to execute his highly detailed renditions of elderly Māori.
Goldie took particular interest in those individuals of high rank or prominence within the Māori tribes. Over time he would study and paint several portraits of the same sitter. In his painting Memories, Goldie depicts the ninety-five year old Chieftainess of the Ngāti Tūwharetoa Tribe, Tamaiti Tūkino, a descendant of the paramount chief of the Tūwharetoa tribe Te Heuheu Tūkino The Great (1780-1846). The tribe Ngāti Tūwharetoa takes its name from this powerful chief who lived near present day Kawerau during the sixteenth century. Te Heuheu Tūkino descended from the lines of Te Arawa, the primary Iwi in the central North Island of New Zealand. Ngāti Tūwharetoa’s tribal territory is located in the Lake Taupo water catchment area; Tamaiti Tūkino herself lived at Tokaanu.
Goldie paints the Chieftainess wearing a traditional Māori cloak (korowai), greenstone pendant (hei tiki) and earring. These are all customary pieces for a person of status and honour within a Māori tribe. Her detailed facial tattooing (tā moko) and the reed (raupo) wall in the background are also of importance, referencing intrinsic parts of the Māori culture and its various art forms. Indeed, Goldie’s paintings depicting the Māori are recognised as important historical sources for the study of Polynesian art forms.
Understandably, the oeuvre of Charles Goldie is generally regarded as the most effective portrayal of the Māori and their culture within the history of art. Memories is an exemplary case of Goldie’s unrivalled talent for meticulous painting techniques and diligent documentation of the Māori civilisation.
Auckland Society of Arts, 1919, no. 127
Taylor A. C. F. Goldie. Vol. 2, p. 277, 1919. Exhib. ASA 1919.
Other works depicting Tamaiti Tūkino illustrated:
Taylor A. C. F. Goldie. Vol. 2, p. 276, “Ninety Years Have Passed: Tamaiti Tūkino, a Chieftainess of the Tūwharetoa tribe, aged 95 years”. Exhibit. ASA 1918, 18 gns.
Taylor A. C. F. Goldie. Vol. 2, p. 275, “Tamaiti Tūkino an Arawa Chieftainess”, Exhib. ASA 1916, 18 gns.