E Rangi And E Tohi, Girls Of Port Nicholson, With Kiko, An Old Woman Of Tiakiwai

GEORGE FRENCH ANGAS (b.1822,d.1886)

E Rangi And E Tohi, Girls Of Port Nicholson, With Kiko, An Old Woman Of Tiakiwai
193 x 240

George French Angas was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. He showed an early interest in natural history and drawing but on completion of his education was required to work in the Office of his father's London coachbuilding business. Leaving this uncongenial position after one year he studied with the natural history artist Benjamin Hawkins then made a sketching tour of the Mediterranean which he published in 1842. His father's business interests in South Australia provided the impetus for Angas's decision to sail for the colony in 1943. He arrived at Adelaide in 1844 and set out on exploring trips with William Giles, then with George Grey. In 1847 he published South Australia Illustrated. In July 1844 he made the sudden decision to sail to New Zealand on board a South Australia Company schooner bound for New Plymouth but which bad weather forced into Port Nicholson ( Wellington ) . From there he travelled to Porirua where he met Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata. He sailed to Mana Island, then south to Cloudy Bay and the entrance to the Wairau Valley. An eight day voyage up the east coast of the North Island brought Angas to Auckland where he visited Orakei Pa and other pa. In the company of Thomas Forsaith, a sub-protector of aborigines he travelled through the Waikato to Lake Taupo and the volcanic plateau, a journey he documented in many drawings and watercolours some of which became the basis for published lithgraphs. During his travels Angus met a number of prominent Maori whose portraits he painted. He also made careful and detailed pencil and watercolour drawings of maori clothing,, artetfacts, dwellings and customs. These were recorded in a journal which formed the basis of Savage Life and scenes in Australia and New Zealand (1847). Angas departed for Sydney at the end of 1844. Although his stay in New Zealand was brief, Angas mnade an important contribution to the preservation of knowledge of Maori culture. Accuracy and attention to detail characterise his descriptions of and depictions of artefacts, clothing, and dwellings but in hyis Maori portraits he often succumbs to the sentimental and the picturesque, Europeanising Maori figures and reducing his subjects to stereotypes. This tendency is particularly marked in the lithographs while some watercolours, though not this one, retain a greater sense of the subjects' individuality. Michael Dunn describes the depictions of Maori by Angas as " misleading confections ". This does not detract from the fact that they are a valuable record of the crucial transitional phase of Maori culture under the impact of European settlement and of the impulses which determined one European's view of a " savage " people.

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