Object: At Rotorua
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Nerli, Girolamo (artist), circa 1897, New Zealand
|Medium summary||oil on panel|
|Materials||oil paint, panels|
x 190mm (Width)
Frame: 477mm (Height) x 360mm (Width) x 30mm (Depth)
Sight: 300mm (Height) x 180mm (Width)
Support: x 13mm (Depth)
|Credit line||Gift of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, 1936|
Typically for Nerli, there is a recreational aspect to the sketch, with one of the bathers partially submerged in the pool and another streaking in the nude to its warmth and cover. This is an informal scene, and there is a hint of humour in the obvious vulnerability of the figure who runs towards the pool to avoid being seen by a passer-by.
Nerli had become acquainted with impressionism while studying in Florence in the early 1880s, and the influence was reinforced by his friendships with young Australian painters of the Heidelberg School, such as Charles Conder, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, in Sydney and Melbourne between 1885 and 1892. Part of the charm of his work is its unpretentious capturing of a slice of everyday life painted with technical fluency and a lightness of touch.
Contemporary photographs of young Maori women and children taken specifically for tourists usually featured Rotorua’s thermal pools as the backdrop that might contribute authenticity and exotic atmosphere to the scene. Here Nerli places the pool and the surrounding landscape at the centre of the painting, and allows his atmospheric sketch to convey the essential character of Rotorua.
This essay originally appeared in Art at Te Papa (Te Papa Press, 2009).
Find additional information about this object at these sites
- Google Art Project
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