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Lindauer, Gottfried (Czech, b.1839, d.1926)
Chief Ngairo Rakaihikuroa in Wairarapa, New Zealand
oil on canvas
675 x 545 mm stretcher size; 925 x 798 x 47mm frame size
5-1924
New Zealand Collection
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1924 by Mr J S Hyslop in memory of Ninian Steel Hyslop, 2nd Lieutenant RFC, killed in action Mesopotamia October 30th 1917.
Gottfried Lindauer emigrated from Bohemia to New Zealand in 1873. He quickly specialised in painting Maori, mostly for the same European audience as C F Goldie, although he also had some Maori clients. As well as portraits like this one, he undertook a series of paintings of aspects of traditional Maori life. His pictures were shown in the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London and the New Zealand government displayed many of his works at the third American World Exposition in St Louis in 1904.
Although he tended to ‘improve’ his subjects’ appearances, and his renditions of moko, dress and ornament were often quite inaccurate, Lindauer avoided the narrative aspect that is central to Goldie’s approach. His works can seem a little stilted at times, perhaps because of his preference for working from photographs rather than live models, but his sitters convey confidence, strength and considerable presence. Even his images of old or infirm Maori are imbued with great dignity.
Chief Ngairo Rakaihikuroa is shown wearing a traditional cloak and huia feathers in his hair, denoting his rangatira status. As is typical of many of Lindauer’s portraits, he holds a weapon, in this case a taiaha.

not on view

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