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Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook

GULLY, John 1819–1888

GULLY, John 1819–1888

Major New Zealand artist, probably the most popular of his time. Born Bath, England: apprenticed to an iron foundry, graduated next to designing and drafting department but not satisfied and spent periods as clerk in a savings bank and in his father's business. Took private lessons in painting at some time. In 1852 he and his wife and children emigrated on the John Phillips to New Plymouth. In 1858 “J.G. of Omata” was advertising ready to paint “views” of properties for sending overseas. He farmed at Omata and worked as a clerk in New Plymouth. Took part as a volunteer in the Taranaki war but was invalided out of the Army: in 1860 removed to Nelson where he settled permanently. Was Drawing Master at Nelson College, then draughtsman in Lands Survey Office. In 1863 two of his paintings, one a wreck of the Lord Worsley, one a view of Mt. Egmont, were advertised for sale. The encouragement given him by von Haast, whose “outlines” of mountains he coloured, and by the painter J. C. Richmond, then Commissioner of Crown Lands, was probably the turning point of his career. Richmond went on painting expeditions with him and used all his influence to make Gully's work known. In 1865 Richmond enlisted the help of his page 114 brother, C. W. Richmond, then a judge in Dunedin, to get his own and Gully's work to the NZ Exhibition and to see that people knew that Gully was ready to paint professionally. By 1870 Gully was probably the most popular painter in the country. He exhibited watercolours at the Intercolonial Ex Melbourne 1866–67. 1878 retired to spend his full time painting, and was listed as Nelson artist in Wise's. Worked nearly always in watercolour and was greatly praised for his “atmospheric effects”. In the NZ and South Seas Ex Dunedin 1889–90, a group of watercolours by the “late Mr Gully” were shown as a special exhibit. Exhibited: Fine Arts Assoc Wtn 1883, NZ Academy of Fine Arts 1889, Melbourne International Ex 1880–81, Centennial Ex, Melbourne 1888–89. Work included in Centennial Ex Wtn 1940. Represented: Suter, and most gallery and library collections in New Zealand.