Christopher Perkins


Taranaki by Christopher Perkins

Artwork Detail

Impressed by the almost perfectly conical form of Taranaki, English artist Christopher Perkins regretted that he could not produce a series of views of the mountain in the manner of Hokusai's views of Fujiyama. Yet by fusing elements of the Japanese ukiyo-e tradition and a flattened, modernist European style, he produced an image of Taranaki which has become a celebrated icon of New Zealand landscape painting. The austere, angular building is a typical New Zealand dairy factory, indicator of a primary national industry, while the fertility of the Taranaki area, essential to the success of that industry, is implied by the clouds clinging to the mountain at the snowline. Hard, clear light was viewed by Perkins as a unique characteristic of the New Zealand landscape. A recruit of the La Trobe scheme, which aimed to improve the standard of local art instruction, Perkins taught at Wellington Technical College and was an early advocate of a distinctly indigenous school of painting. Despite the brevity of his stay here from 1929 to 1933, his brand of regional realism was influential on later generations of artists. Drawn to the Antipodes by a misguided preconception of an exotic Gauguinesque existence and not anticipating the conservatism of the local environment, Perkins' advanced views quickly alienated him from the art establishment of the day. Not until the 1960s was he rehabilitated into the mainstream history of New Zealand art. (from The Guide, 2001)

Christopher Perkins
Production date
oil on canvas
508 x 914 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1968
Accession no
Other ID
1968/83 Old Accession Number
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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