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New Zealand Studies: A Guide to Bibliographic Resources

11. Visual images: paintings, drawings, prints, photographs

11. Visual images: paintings, drawings, prints, photographs

New Zealand's pictorial landscape shows few signs of the bibliographer's art. The strictly bibliographic approaches to our pictorial resources are few and far between and the researcher must approach the images by other, less direct pathways; through catalogues of the works of individual artists, the catalogues of institutions and exhibitions, general histories, and directories. One work that gives an overview of the pictorial images available for New Zealand studies, and their locations, is the Paul Hamlyn popular pictorial history of New Zealand, New Zealand's Heritage: the Making of a Nation, issued in 105 weekly parts between 1971 and 1973. It is still the best and most widely available catalogue of pictorial representations of New Zealand.

Early prints relating to New Zealand have found their bibliographers in Enid and Don Ellis's Early Prints of New Zealand 1642-1875, published in 1978 by Avon Fine Prints. It covers commercially produced pictorial plates issued as separates or included in bound volumes and is an essential guide to the pictorial riches of the early exploring expeditions. For the important pictorial records in London, Eric McCormick's pioneering list, in typescript but widely copied, Graphic Records of New Zealand in the British Museum (1956) is still useful.

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Because of the lack of readily available published catalogues of the major collections in New Zealand, the catalogues of Rex Nan Kivell's collection, indisputably the richest privately assembled source of New Zealand images (now in the National Library of Australia in Canberra) are still significant bibliographic tools. A typescript list of the whole collection was issued in a few copies in 1959, and in 1974 he published Portraits of the Famous and Infamous ... 1492-1970 based substantially on portraits in his collection.

In bibliographic terms the next most significant group of publications is the catalogues raisonnes of individual artists. An early example is Eric McCormick's Works of Frances Hodgkins in New Zealand (1954), a recent one, Rodney Wilson's Petrus van der Velden (1979), but more interesting and significant is the publication in recent years of scholarly studies, with catalogues, as collectors' editions. This development, associated with the publisher Alister Taylor, has produced Heather Curnow's Life and Art of William Strutt 1825-1915 (1981); Taylor and Glen's C. F. Goldie 1870-1947... (2 vols, 1977-78); Rose Young's G. F. von Tempsky, Artist and Adventurer (1982), and Eugene von Guerard (1983). All are lavishly produced and illustrated, with scholarly texts and good bibliographic apparatus, and overpriced to appeal to a local collector's market. Initially the publisher and the investors appeared to be the major beneficiaries but one suspects, looking at recent auction prices, that scholarship may well be the winner in the long term.

Several New Zealand galleries have issued catalogues of their holdings, of varying standards of description. In 1979 the Auckland City Art Gallery produced in a very small edition, principally for internal use, an Inventory covering the years 1883-1978; the Bishop Suter Art Gallery in Nelson published a new edition of its Catalogue of the Permanent Collection in 1980 (first issued 1964); the Fletcher Challenge Corporation, which has one of the largest private collections of New Zealand art, published a revised edition of its catalogue in 1981; the National Art Gallery published a catalogue in 1936 and issued a typescript listing in 1976; the Robert McDougall Gallery in Christchurch A Guide to the Collection in 1973; and the Sarjeant Gallery in Wanganui a catalogue of its pictures in 1959. Two of the specialised New Zealand collections have catalogues of their New Zealand holdings; the Auckland Institute and Museum produced a typed Catalogue of the Picture Collection 'for use by the Library page 23 staff in 1970, and the Hocken Library published a Catalogue of Pictures in 1948. These catalogues and inventories are supplemented by hundreds of exhibition catalogues, again of varying standards of description.

The major gap is a published catalogue of the Alexander Turnbull's collection of some 40,000 paintings, drawings and prints relating to New Zealand and the Pacific. Such a catalogue, either on paper or colour microfiche, has been discussed in recent years. The Library has made minor amends by publishing lists of major acquisitions in the Turnbull Library Record since 1969.

The major research libraries (Turnbull, Hocken, Auckland Institute) have had for some time good internal bibliographic control over their collections and the public galleries have improved their control markedly in recent years. The best bibliographic records are still the card catalogues of the research libraries. The Turnbull Library's embryo 'union catalogue' of eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings, drawings and prints relating to New Zealand, has been described in the June 1983 issue of ARLIS/ANZ News. The 'catalogue' consists of some 20,000 black and white 6 x 8 inch photographs, supplemented by colour transparencies of some, of originals held by the Turnbull (some 10,0000 to date), other New Zealand institutions, private collectors, and overseas institutions such as the British Library, Australian National Library, Bibliotheque Nationale, Archives Nationales, Paris, Mitchell Library, and others in the U.S.A. and Canada.

General histories of New Zealand painting are, in this bare bibliographic landscape, of value. Brown and Keith's An Introduction to New Zealand Paintings 1838-1980 (rev. ed., 1982) and Docking's Two Hundred Years of New Zealand Painting (1971) are selective, strong on generalisation and lean on bibliographic citations. Gordon Brown's three catalogues prepared for exhibitions of New Zealand painting over twenty-year periods (1900-1920; 1920-1940; 1940-1960) are, among writings on New Zealand art history, unusual for the denseness of their bibliographic citation.

Other reference works of value are Una Platts's Nineteenth Century Artists: a Guide and Handbook (1980), a biographical compendium; Max Germaine's Artists and Galleries of Australia and New Zealand (1979); Keith Thomson's Art Galleries and Museums of New Zealand (1981); and the centennial histories of the Auckland Society of Arts (1972) and the New Zealand page 24 Academy of Fine Arts (1983).

Periodicals used by researchers include Art in New Zealand (1928-1944), Art New Zealand (1976-) and the Bulletin of New Zealand Art History (1972-).

If the artistic landscape is bibliographically underpopulated, then the photographic record is grossly underexposed. A beginning has been made by Hardwicke Knight, Main, and others, on the history of photography in New Zealand. Knight, in his New Zealand Photographs: a Selection (1981) includes 23 selected biographies and a list of some 1,100 photographers working in New Zealand up to 1900. The very substantial collections of photographs in institutions are, with some notable exceptions, under poor internal bibliographic control. The first step, a directory of photograph collections, is under consideration by interested parties. To date the only directories are those in Witkin and London's The Photograph Collector's Guide (Boston, 1979) which lists eight 'museums' and one 'Gallery/Exhibition space' on p. 411 under New Zealand, and Photo-Forum's Research Supplement, April 1977, 'Results of a Survey on the State of New Zealand Photography as Regards Public and Private Art Galleries, Libraries and Museums' which has 66 brief entries.