Charles Blomfield is remembered chiefly for his paintings of New Zealand’s famous lost treasures, the Pink and White Terraces. He was an avid explorer and travelled all over New Zealand to paint and sketch the landscape.
The Blomfields emigrated from England in 1863, settling in Auckland. Charles painted the scenery, but also found work painting and decorating houses. In 1874 he married Ellen Wild, a woman “of good pioneering stock”.
Blomfield loved to stroll through the native bush and it was in the Coromandel that he began his career. When in Auckland, he loved to visit the Waitakere Ranges. Following a trip to Tronson Kauri Park, he wrote to The Herald:
“I have no hesitation in stating … that this bush contains the finest specimens of the kauri in New Zealand, and saying that is equivalent to saying the finest specimens of the kauri in the world.”
Blomfield worked mainly in oils. His style remained within the boundaries of academic tradition but later became increasingly romantic as he developed an interest in portraying not only what appeared before him, but also the impact it had on him emotionally.
Blomfield’s reputation spread far and wide after his paintings of the Pink and White Terraces on the shores of Lake Rotomahana. These had been destroyed in the eruption of Mount Tarawera on 10 June 1886. He made several visits to the area before the eruption, which enabled him to capture the scene in varying lights and conditions. These paintings provide probably the most accurate artistic representation of the Pink and White Terraces as they were.
The grandiose scale on which his paintings have been executed is appropriate considering the historic significance of their subject matter. The appeal of these pieces lies not only in their immediately apparent aesthetic qualities, but also in the fact that they provide a very useful and interesting record of New Zealand’s natural and geographical history. As such, Blomfield’s works are represented in every major museum in New Zealand