Over time, this collection has been shaped by Te Papa’s and its predecessor’s relationship with the government, the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, and the city of Wellington.
As a consequence of these relationships, the Paintings Collection shows strengths in the work of particular New Zealand artists, in particular genres of painting (portraiture, for example, because of a quantity of ‘national’ portraits), and in subject matter relevant to the events and geography of Wellington city.
Te Papa’s collection has strengths in the work of Petrus van der Velden, in both his New Zealand and his Dutch subjects, and J M Nairn, from his time working in and around Wellington as a professional artist.
In portraiture, Te Papa has a number of works by painters such as Mary Tripe, Archibald Nicoll, C F Goldie, and Gottfried Lindauer.
Of early modern New Zealand painters, the collection holds good examples of works by John Weeks, Charles Tole, Russell Clark, Sir Tosswill Woollaston, and Lois White. The Rita Angus loan collection, from the Angus Estate, together with Te Papa’s collection of this New Zealand painter, forms a body of many excellent works.
In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, there was a push to strengthen the New Zealand Paintings Collection. As a result, the collection has good examples of works by many artists of this time - in particular, paintings by Jeffrey Harris, Michael Smither, PhilipTrusttum, and Gretchen Albrecht.
Te Papa’s collection of late modern New Zealand painters - Colin McCahon, Ralph Hotere, Tony Fomison - is a reflection of the perceived need to have a good representation of significant New Zealand painters.
See all paintings in Te Papa's collection