Charles Blomfield

White Terraces, Rotomahana

White Terraces, Rotomahana by Charles Blomfield

Artwork Detail

The vast silica slopes of Te Tarata, the White Terrace of Rotomāhana, were an international tourist attraction dubbed the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'. Visitors wore special shoes in order to climb up and gaze into the throat of the gigantic geyser whose silica-charged waters had formed the terraces over countless centuries. Visited by many painters and photographers, the terraces of Rotomāhana became one of New Zealand's most depicted landscapes of the late nineteenth century. Auckland artist Charles Blomfield spent six weeks at Rotomāhana early in 1885, documenting the Pink and White Terraces and the surrounding landscape in a series of oil paintings. By September 1885 it was reported that orders for paintings had been 'received and executed from tourists hailing from London, France, Germany, America, Australia, and other places'. When adjacent Mount Tarawera erupted on 10 June 1886, totally destroying the famous terraces, fourteen of Blomfield's Rotomāhana canvasses were on display at London's Colonial and Indian Exhibition. The loss of the terraces spurred Blomfield to produce many more versions. Although painted in response to demand from tourists, few of Blomfield's paintings depicted tourist activity. Instead, the paintings promote a nostalgic vision of Rotomāhana in its 'native purity', uncontaminated by the visitors whose profane graffiti and souvenir hunting had already despoiled its grandeur. (from The Guide, 2001)

White Terraces, Rotomahana
Charles Blomfield
Production date
oil on canvas
868 x 1483 x 60 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr D L Murdoch
Accession no
Other ID
0/20 Old Accession Number
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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