Visitors to the Gallery will soon have the chance to see one of Petrus van der Velden's earliest works.
The Leuvehaven, Rotterdam (1867) is the first major piece from the Dutch artist's career before he moved to New Zealand to be on show to the public anywhere in this country, and one of the first he ever exhibited. Early in his career, the artist focused on marine subjects and the painting, purchased by the Gallery earlier this year, is a meticulous depiction one of the Netherlands' busiest ports. It was completed in 1867 as van der Velden was giving up his lithographic printing business to become a full-time painter. The work will be on display from 25 November as part of the refreshed Brought to Light – our long-term collection exhibition.
The Leuvehaven, Rotterdam will be one of three major paintings by the artist on display this summer, and director Jenny Harper says it will be fantastic for visitors to see the progression of van der Velden's career in the refreshed Brought to Light.
Back on display after a brief absence, The Dutch Funeral is a real public favourite. Completed in 1875, it portrays the harsh conditions of the Dutch working class in the style of the nineteenth-century romantic realist work of the Hague School. The third work, Mountain stream, Otira Gorge, was completed in 1893, after van der Velden emigrated to New Zealand, and is one of the series of paintings based on the Otira Gorge region for which he is perhaps best known in this country. Van der Velden's Otira series will become the focus of a major Gallery exhibition and publication in February 2011.
Ms Harper says 'The Leuvehaven, Rotterdam is nicely aligned in size with two other major works of his already in the collection and it will be wonderful to be able to show our visitors such a key early work by the artist. It will allow us to show his wide-ranging output and to emphasise both where he came from and the extraordinary impact that the New Zealand landscape had on his practice.'
The new painting was purchased with assistance from Gabrielle Tasman in memory of her late husband Adriaan, and from the Olive Stirrat Bequest. The purchase was also supported by Christchurch City Council's Challenge Grant to the Christchurch Art Gallery Trust. The grant, launched last year, sees the Council match funds raised by the Trust up to a set amount annually for ten years to assist the Gallery to purchase significant works of art.