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Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook

COUSINS, Thomas Selby 1840–1897

COUSINS, Thomas Selby 1840–1897

Watercolourist and illustrator in black and white. Born England, son of engraver Henry Cousins and nephew of engraver Samuel Cousins RA: was second to Landseer in the RA scholarship. Came to New Zealand for health reasons 1863–64; his first known occu-pation was in the Aclands' shearing shed at Mt. Peel, the Aclands having been friends of Cousins the engraver. Exhibited NZ Exhibition Dunedin 1865. Watercolour of Akaroa dated 1867, but in same year possibly visited Victoria, Australia where he exhibited watercolours at Hine's in Collins Street, Melbourne, and illustrated Marcus Clarke's For the Term of His Natural Life. This came out in serial form in a Melbourne newspaper: Clarke was often behind time and Cousins was wakened in the middle of the night to do the drawing. Was back in Christchurch before 1876, painting portraits, and when Coker was decorating the interior of his new Hotel he asked Cousins to paint characteristic sketches of notable “Canterbury Pilgrims”. Cousins produced a series of 20 watercolour cartoons. A. H. O'Keeffe wrote of him that his art was “a cut above the work done in Dunedin at the time”. Cousins was in a good financial position when O'Keeffe met him, due to a legacy of £20,000.0.0 from his uncle, “but was used to doing with a great deal less”. He had “intensely humorous stories”, mostly pure invention; was a “big, burly man in build, like a policeman, slow in movement, but when painting he could get a move on.” Many impecunious artists touched him for a pound. He died regretted by all. Exhibited: CSA 1881–89, on Council 1881–84; OAS 1883–95 and page 75 perhaps by 1885 already living in Dunedin, where listed as an artist in 1889 Stone's Directory and 1894–97 Wise's. Was cousin and close friend of L. W. Wilson. Visited England 1893. Died in Dunedin. Work included Centennial Ex Wtn 1940. Represented: CSA, Turn-bull, Hocken and Canterbury Museum.