Charles Blomfield

Charles Blomfield (1848–1926) was born in London, England. He arrived in Auckland in 1863. Blomfield was a self taught artist, yet he became considered one of the leading professional artists in New Zealand. He painted the Pink and White Terraces in the Rotorua district before the Tarawera eruption destroyed them in 1886. He exhibited the original twelve paintings in his house in Wood Street, Ponsonby. He would not sell them but made many scale copies of them over the years. He worked mainly in oils, developing in the 1880s a strong detailed style: his work tended to become more romantic in the later years. At one time his studio in the Victoria Arcade in Queen Street was open daily and visited by all the tourists. In 1889 the New Zealand Herald art critic castigated him for his most unfortunate choice of subjects: ‘The Red Terrace Cascade … looked for all the world like a pile of boiled crabs and lobsters and the best artist in the world could not make it look otherwise’ and he wrote that he regretted that people like Blomfield were prostituting their talents to meet the demands of the tourists. In 1893 when his first peak of popularity was waning he tried his luck in Australia but without much success. On his return to New Zealand he set up a studio in Wellington for a few months but then returned to Auckland. In his later life he seemed, like the artist Goldie, to suffer from a nervous breakdown, and he had to stop painting. Exhibited with Society of Artists, Auckland 1873–77; ASA from 1881; NZ Industrial Exhibition Wellington 1885 and 1889; in NZ & South Seas Exhibition 1889–90; Centennial Ex Melbourne 1888–89 and Melbourne International Ex 1880–81; Industrial and Mining Ex Auckland 1898; NZ International Ex Chch 1906–07; Centennial Ex 1940. Represented in major New Zealand galleries, Turnbull and Hocken libraries.