From the early 1900s until the 1940s, Sydney Thompson was New Zealand's most respected and successful artist.
A promising talent, Thompson attended Canterbury College School of Art, Christchurch, New Zealand, from 1895, and was also privately tutored by Petrus van der Velden (1895-1898). He travelled to Europe in 1900, enrolling at the Académie Julian in Paris and was introduced to plein-air impressionist painting at Concarneau, Brittany (1902-04) where he subsequently executed some the most well regarded works in his oeuvre.
In 1905 he returned to New Zealand to teach at Canterbury College. Between 1911 and 1973, Thompson divided his time between Concarneau and Canterbury, painting impressionist scenes of the fishing village and its residents. Exhibiting in Europe and New Zealand, his work was eagerly sought after by art societies and collectors.
Thompson was an influential artist, exhibiting over seven decades and up to the 1930s, introducing New Zealand artists to developments in European painting. He was honoured with an OBE in 1937.
Thompson’s work is held in all major public art galleries in New Zealand.