John Gully (1819 – 1st November 1888) was a New Zealand landscape painter. He was born in Bath, England, and
emigrated to New Zealand with his wife and three children in 1852. He was largely self-taught, though he did take a few private lessons.
He was encouraged by the geologist Julius von Haast, who commissioned him to complete 12 watercolours of Canterbury mountains and glaciers to illustrate a lecture given by Haast at the Royal Geographical Society in London in 1864.
He became the part-time drawing master at Nelson College, but because he was self-taught and not schooled in classical style he was not popular with the principal. Gully continued to teach informally - one of his students was Frances Ann Fletcher, whose works are now held in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Eventually in 1863, with assistance of his friend, politician and amateur painter James Crowe Richmond, Gully was appointed as a full-time draughtsman at the Nelson provincial survey office. James Crowe Richmond was a lifelong friend of Gully's and his companion in many painting expeditions. He continued to paint in his spare time until 1878 when he was able to resign his position to paint full-time. He was a popular artist during his lifetime and is now regarded as one of New Zealand's foremost landscape painters.
Painting almost entirely in watercolour, Gully often went on sketching trips and filled sketch-books with careful pencil studies and numerous quick-wash drawings both in colour and sepia.
Gully's large watercolours became immensely popular at Art Society shows. He sold all of the watercolours he submitted to the 'New Zealand Exhibition' in Dunedin in 1865 before the exhibition even opened and won a silver medal. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1871 and in 1873 sent 9 paintings to the New Zealand court at the International Industrial Exhibition in Vienna. In 1886, he exhibited at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London and the 'Intercolonial Exhibition' in Melbourne. He also exhibited works with the Society of British Watercolour Artists in London. His last big exhibition was the 'Wellington Industrial Exhibition' of 1885. In 1889, a year after his death, the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition (1889) in Dunedin featured a special showing of his works.
Gully is thought to have painted between 700 and 900 works, many of which are now found in private collections in New Zealand and around the world.