The portrait is one of the enduring themes throughout art history. A portrait is not merely a record of the subject’s physical features; it can offer a vivid sense of that person’s presence, and their status, wealth, and character.
The Aratoi collection contains its share of images of important people, tipuna/ancestors, artist’s family members and friends, and the occasional self-portrait. The paintings can be the fruit of family connections and friendships, as with the portraits of Roy Steer by his sister Elsie and his friend Stewart Maclennan, or a commissioned record of a person of mana, like the tipuna portraits by Gottfried Lindauer. All offer a glimpse into that person and their world.
Images: Toss Woollaston, 3 Head Studies, 1970. ink & wash. Stephen Allwood, Giant, 1981. etching. Collection of Wairarapa Museum of Art and History.