Born in England, Kinder arrived in New Zealand at the age of 36 in 1855. Upon his arrival, Kinder had already completed a degree at Cambridge University and had been ordained a priest of the Anglican Church, however, it is for his historical photographs and watercolours of New Zealand that he is remembered and celebrated.
John Kinder had been a practising amateur artist for over sixteen years in England, with surviving drawings revealing a specific interest in recording buildings and landscapes with a definite topographical emphasis. Although an amateur artist, he had received invaluable artistic tuition from Aaron Penley (1807 – 1870), a respected watercolourist who had published several instructive manuals on the technical and practical aspects of watercolour painting, which Kinder proceeded to follow in subsequent years.
Kinder’s acute sense of perspective and his fastidious accuracy in scaling and dimensions is evident in his topographical drawings of architectural and landscape scenes. His attention to detail is the result of Penley’s teaching and his insistence on perfection. Penley also insisted that his students should introduce figures where appropriate in order to provide colour, atmosphere, feeling and character to a scene, which was a principle that Kinder adhered to in later years.
The photographs, paintings and numerous drawings that Kinder completed during his time in New Zealand now comprise some of the earliest and most valuable insights into early European settlements, missionary stations and Victorian life in general. Kinder worked alongside contemporary artists such as John Barr Clark Hoyte and William Fox, yet he remains unparalleled amongst amateur artists for his consistently high standard of detailing, accuracy and diversity of subject matter.
Reverend John Kinder
The Church of England Grammar School, Parnell, from the site of Master's House
Sepia & watercolour over pencil, inscribed verso
Reverend John Kinder
Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire
Pencil & watercolour
24 x 25.5cm
Inscribed "Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire.
Edward II was murdered 1327 in the room over the doorway in the square tower lighted by two square windows. — J. Kinder."