Constance Gordon Cumming

Sir George Grey's home on the Kawau

Sir George Grey's home on the Kawau by Constance Gordon Cumming

Artwork Detail

The Scottish travel writer and artist Constance Frederica Gordon Cumming visited New Zealand in early 1877. She was then living in Fiji, nominally working as governess for the children of her cousin Sir Arthur Gordon, Governor of Fiji. In New Zealand she enjoyed the hospitality of the former Governor, Sir George Grey, on his feudal domain of Kawau Island, where she was enchanted by the 'cosy old English home - every room wood-panelled, and full of strange treasures from many lands'. Among these treasures was a collection of European old-master paintings, soon to become one of the founding benefactions of the Gallery, as well as important manuscripts, Chinese and South American antiquities, Mäori täonga and the best library in the colony. During several months spent in New Zealand, Constance Gordon Cumming produced an impressive series of watercolour paintings, 27 of which she later contributed to the New Zealand display at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition held in London in 1886. One of her exhibited works was this depiction of Grey's house and garden, framed by the branches of an ancient pöhutukawa in full flower. She depicts the flowering agaves along the shore, as well as the newly planted pines on the hill beyond, evidence of Grey's boundless enthusiasm for the introduction of exotic species. (from The Guide, 2001)

Sir George Grey's home on the Kawau
Constance Gordon Cumming
Production date
414 x 605 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1990
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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