Manpower Lectures – #3 The New Mail Order


event Details

Lecture 3: The New Mail Order: Men, Muscles and Masculinity in Early Twentieth Century New Zealand
Lecturer: Caroline Daley

When Eugen Sandow, the father of modern bodybuilding, toured New Zealand in the summer of 1902-03, his aim was to reshape the nation. Long before the likes of Charles Atlas peddled mail order muscle programmes, the Sandow System was embraced by men throughout New Zealand. Eager to flex and pose and dream of a new male order, these men joined local gyms, entered bodybuilding contests, and even strutted their stuff in local beauty competitions. In this lecture, Dr Caroline Daley reveals the bodies of early twentieth century men and questions whether our fixation with rugby players, farmers and soldiers means we’re missing the pleasure that comes from gazing upon the world’s most perfectly developed man and his local acolytes.

Dr Caroline Daley is a Professor of History and Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Auckland. Her research interests include New Zealand social and cultural history with a special focus on the history of gender relations. Caroline is the author of Girls and Women, Men and Boys (Auckland University Press, 1999) and Leisure and Pleasure: Reshaping and Revealing the New Zealand Body 1900–1960 (Auckland University Press, 2003). Her forthcoming book, Beauty Queens and Physique Kings, explores the history of beauty and body contests in New Zealand from their origins in the 1860s to the recent past.


Manpower: Myths of Masculinity brings into focus some of the many images of male bodies that have underpinned the rich holdings of Auckland’s public art gallery since its foundation in 1888 and in the process explores the complex relationships between people and art, and between men and masculinity.

Across lectures from four leading scholars, you will learn about the varying depictions of the male body and the ever-roaming male gaze in art and culture. Starting with an introduction to the exhibition, uncover the appeal and interpretations of artworks for Victorian-era collectors. Embark on a series of scholarly case studies starring the warriors of ancient Greece, the effete Victorian dandy, and the famous strongman Eugen Sandow, who toured New Zealand in 1902.  

Manpower: Myths of Masculinity was researched by Senior Curator of International Art Sophie Matthiesson and Assistant Curator, International Art Emma Jameson. 

Course outline and Materials 

This course comprises four lectures; three will be conducted live and in-person at the Gallery, one will be pre-recorded. Students can watch the pre-recorded lecture at home.

All students will receive a course syllabus with a recommended reading list as well as a copy of the Manpower exhibition catalogue (RRP: $30). Tickets cover in-person admission to lectures one, two and three and online access to the fourth.

This lecture is the third in a four-part series, Manpower Lectures: Antiquity, aesthetes and athleticism.  Click here to see the other events.

This event will proceed at Red with:

If you are unable to attend this event because you are in self-isolation (because you have tested positive for Covid-19 or you have been identified as a close contact) you are entitled to a full refund.



Standard Members                                                                   $100
Open to AAG Members and those with valid guest passes. Includes admission to three lectures in person, access to one online, reading material and a copy of the Manpower exhibition catalogue (RRP: $30).

Standard Non-Members                                                           $190
Includes a one-year membership, admission to three lectures in person, access to one online, reading material and a copy of the Manpower exhibition catalogue (RRP: $30).

Standard Students                                                                    $80
With valid student ID. Includes admission to three lectures in person, access to one online, reading material and a copy of the Manpower exhibition catalogue (RRP: $30).

This event is part of our membership programme. Join us from $50 per year. 


Image credit: Benjamin J Falk, Eugene Sandow, Full-length Portrait, Standing, Leaning on Column, Facing Left, Wearing Wrestling Leotard, Roman Sandles, and Six Pointed Star Pendant, circa 1894. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.



Auckland Art Gallery, Auditorium
Members $100, Non-Members $190, Students $80
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Manpower Lectures: Antiquity, aesthetes and athleticism