Petrus van der Velden: Art of two halves
June 11 - August 21 2016

Made up of paintings, sketches and journals this exhibition from Te Papa Tongarewa reveals the mastery of this early New Zealand painter. It showcases a number of works spanning the artists’ Dutch and New Zealand years, exploring his unique and highly dramatic approach to subject and theme.

Petrus van der Velden, Storm at Wellington Heads, about 1908, Gift of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, 1936. Te Papa (1936-0012-115)

When Petrus van der Velden arrived in New Zealand in 1890, he was already a mature artist with an established reputation in Dutch art circles. Vincent van Gogh described him as a ‘solid, serious painter’.

In the Netherlands, Van der Velden had focused on studies of everyday people but New Zealand’s majestic scenery inspired a dramatic change in subject and style. He turned his attention to capturing the rugged landscape in raw, expressive paintings. 

Petrus van der Velden, Mountain stream, Otira Gorge, about 1893. Purchased 1946. Te Papa (1946-0007-1)

Van der Velden died in 1913. This exhibition, developed and toured by Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is dedicated to his memory and legacy.

It also honours T L Rodney Wilson, an expert on Van der Velden’s work, who died in April 2013.  


“Wherever he went, he recorded his immediate impressions of peoples and places in pencil, charcoal, and ink. His pocket-sized sketchbooks, which are on show in the exhibition, reveal his skill in capturing the essence of his subject in just a few lines or strokes” - Dr Rebecca Rice, Te Papa’s Curator Historical New Zealand Art.

Image credit top image: 
Petrus van der Velden, Marken funeral barge, 1890–1891, Gift of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, 1936. Te Papa (1936-0012-113)