Jacques Carabain Queen Street, Auckland

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Artwork Overview

The Belgian artist Jacques Carabain was in Australia in the late 1880s, and probably visited Auckland while travelling to or from Europe. Carabain may have made some preliminary drawings while here, but he certainly purchased photographer George Valentine's view of Queen Street. Valentine's photograph, taken around 1883, provided the basis for the painting which was probably made back in Europe. Carabain painted equivalent views of the main streets of Melbourne and Sydney, similarly dated 1889, suggesting a programmed strategy by this Canaletto of colonial thoroughfares. Urban views are relatively rare in New Zealand painting of the period, when artists displayed more interest in grappling with the picturesque trappings of forest or mountain than with the realities of the inner city. Carabain's depiction of Queen Street is most remarkable in showing us a streetscape that has now almost completely changed. The viewpoint is from just below the corner of Fort Street and the imposing brick building is the Victoria Arcade, demolished in 1978 and replaced by the present Bank of New Zealand. In the later nineteenth century the Victoria Arcade housed many artists' studios, including those of the history painter Louis J. Steele, the bohemian Italian Girolamo Pieri Nerli, and the 'Gallery of New Zealand Art' in which Charles Blomfield displayed his depictions of the lost Pink and White Terraces of Rotomähana. (from The Guide, 2001)

Jacques Carabain 
Queen Street, Auckland 
Production Date:
oil on canvas 
Size (hxw):
1253 x 1536 mm 
Auckland. 20 December 1889 J. Carabain 
Credit Line:
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the P A Edmiston Trust, 1986 
Accession No:
No known copyright restrictions 
New Zealand Art 

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