What did the Reverend Dr John Kinder look like?

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Tuesday 17 December 2013
Ron Brownson



Since the exhibition Kinder's Presence opened, I've been getting asked what John Kinder looked like. There aren't many known portraits of him. The studio portrait above is in the Auckland Libraries's collection. I believe it was taken during the early to mid 1870s, when the artist was in his fifties. Kinder was apparently bald from early manhood and he wore a beard for his adult life. He apparently believed that he was one of the few Anglican clergymen to sport facial whiskers. There is certainly the look of a patriarch about him and the beard does make him seem older than he was.

This portrait is currently credited as being taken by James D Richardson by the Sir George Grey Special Collections of Auckland Libraries but it is too early for Richardson to have made it himself. It is more likely that Richardson printed it from someone else's glass negative.

Below is the portrait painting of Dr Kinder that Gottfried Lindauer was commissioned to produce by Kinder's students at St John's Theological College. Kinder is dressed formally both as a Doctor of Theology and in the formal Anglican ecclesiatical attire that he is said to have much liked. The Lindauer portrait is undated but must come from the last years of the priest's life. The look and ceremony of High Church Anglicanism fascinated the priest and is said to have alienated him from his Church cohorts at Auckland.

John Kinder was, in fact, proud of his sartorial elegance according to Professor Michael Dunn, who spoke about Kinder's personality here last week. Michael also suggested that Kinder always seemed to appear old.



I reckon that Lindauer used this late photographic portrait of John Kinder as the basis of his painting. Kinder had one of the most important private libraries in New Zealand and it is totally appropriate that he be photographed as if momentarily interrupted in his reading.



Image Credits:
attributed to John D Richardson 
John Kinder
collection: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-1289

Gottfried Lindauer 
Reverend Dr John Kinder
oil on canvas
Saint John's College, Auckland
gift of the students of Dr Kinder

John Kinder photograph
Cycloepedia of New Zealand