Title / object name
Portrait of Rodney Kennedy
|Maker ||Role ||Date |
|Woollaston, M. T. ||artist ||1936 |
oil on cardboardMaterials
oil paint, cardboard
|Image ||361 (Height) x 245 (Length) mm|
|Overall ||558 (Height) x 443 (Length) mm|
Purchased 1990 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds
This portrait of Rodney Kennedy was painted by Toss Woollaston in 1936, the year of his first solo exhibition in Dunedin. The rough black outlines, sketchy colour, and angular, close-cropped composition are typical of Woollaston's style at the time.
A growing relationship
Woollaston and Kennedy met in Dunedin as art students in 1932, and began a love affair that eventually settled into lifelong friendship. As Woollaston recalled: 'He was assured where I fumbled, knowledgeable where I was uninformed, and infectiously critical of the "art world" outside Dunedin, and of the Art Society in Dunedin. He danced and sang, while I was inert and dumb. Altogether a captivating friend.' Portrait of Rodney Kennedy evokes this energy and passion through its vigorous brushstrokes, awkward perspective and the cropping of Kennedy's body by the edges of the painting.
The artist and his patron
Initially it was Kennedy who was the more promising artist. Soon the quality of Woollaston's painting surpassed that of his friend, and Kennedy became his greatest champion. He saw to the framing of Woollaston's paintings, showed them to anyone who took an interest, and encouraged the artist with his intelligent criticism.
Te Papa holds forty-five works by Woollaston. It also houses the Sir Mountford Tosswill Woollaston Archive, a large collection of material gifted by the artist's family in 2001.