Edward Friström


Pohutukawa by Edward Friström

Artwork Detail

Over several weeks in mid-summer, the pöhutukawa transforms itself into a blaze of crimson flowers. The traditions of two Mäori migration canoes, Tainui and Te Arawa, record that their first landfall occurred when the pöhutukawa was in blossom. The accounts tell how in the excitement of seeing the red-plumed trees of Aotearoa, some of the immigrants cast overboard their kura, the prized red-feather ornaments carried from their homeland of Hawaiki. European settlers also responded to the remarkable tree and its seasonal bloom, calling it the 'New Zealand Christmas tree'. One of the tree's early champions was the watercolourist Alfred Sharpe, whose portrait of an ancient pöhutukawa from a sacred grove at Takapuna is one of his best-known works. Constance Gordon Cumming wrote: 'in its prime, each tree is one mass of glowing scarlet; and the effect of its flame-coloured branches overhanging the bright blue water, and dripping showers of fiery stamens in the sea or on the grass, is positively dazzling' (see page 63). Another painter seduced by the pöhutukawa was the Swedish-born Edward Friström, who worked in Australia before arriving in Auckland in 1903. His small oil paintings treat the landscape with an unprecedented lyricism, as in this depiction of a flaming pöhutukawa with a sun-drenched strand of beach beyond - a potent icon of the northern summer. (from The Guide, 2001)

Edward Friström
Production date
circa 1905
oil on card
354 x 430 x 40 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1967
Accession no
Other ID
1967/14 Old Accession Number
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
On display

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