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Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook

WATKINS, Kennett (C. H. Kennett Watkins) 1847–1933

WATKINS, Kennett (C. H. Kennett Watkins) 1847–1933

Born India, son of Major John Watkins of the Indian Army; educated at Wellington College, England, where he won first prize for drawing three years in succession. Studied art in France and in page 248 Switzerland, where he also did some climbing. Chevalier Terry once taught him, and then in Florence he learned modelling and figure work from P. F. Connelly who later visited New Zealand and exhibited here. Watkins arrived in New Zealand 1873 and first earned his living through photography; made tinplates of many of the old Maoris of the north. Taught school in Russell and married the daughter of Davis the missionary. By 1877 was in Auckland working as an artist: exhibited with Society of Artists 1877; in Sydney Ex 1879 as an Auckland artist; with ASA 1881–1915; Centennial Ex Melbourne 1888–89; NZ and South Seas Ex, Dunedin 1889–90. Was first and only Principal of the Auckland Free School of Art 1879–96, part-time teacher at Auckland Grammar School 1882–1907; art teacher at Auckland Girls' Grammar School 1907–14; listed as Auckland artist 1883 and 1890–1902 Wise's. In 1915 he and his wife went to the Ruatoria district to live near a son who was farming there; in 1926 to Dannevirke; 1931 to Mercury Bay. When he had been in Malaya as a young man had loved to go shooting; in later life he regretted it and in many of his bush paintings it pleased him to paint, only discernable to a sharp eye, the birds he became so fond of amongst the foliage. Painted landscapes in oil and in watercolour (often using body colour). Work included Centennial Ex Wtn 1940. Represented: ACAG, Gisborne Art Gallery. Lithographs from his work are in Hocken.