The undertaking of detailed cityscapes as opposed to portraiture and landscape painting rose to prominence in the 17th and 18th century due to artists such as Jan Vermeer (1632-1675) and Giovanni Canaletto (1697-1768), who painted detailed and panoramic scenes of Venice and London town situated on the banks of the Thames River. Some early cityscapes of London showed even the more macabre details such as pirates and traitors heads impaled on spikes on the gates to the city.
Early cityscapes generally speaking, are somewhat of a rarity and a fine painting of early Auckland City is held in the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery. The Artist Jacques Francois Carabain (1834-1933), a Dutch-Belgian painter travelled to New Zealand and Australia in 1885. He composed detailed urban scenes mainly of Europe and London. The Painting in the Auckland Art Gallery is a unique work depicting Auckland as a busy colonial South Pacific city in the 19th century. Painting in cities apparently had no adverse effect on the artists health however, as he lived a fruitful and long life completing up to 1000 paintings during a life span of almost 99 years.
Professional Scottish/New Zealand artist John Gibb (1831-1909) while essentially a seascape artist, painted many city scenes based around New Zealand’s colonial ports such as Wellington, Port Chalmers, Lyttleton and Auckland. Charles Blomfield, JC Hoyte, John Kinder, AE Aldis and more latterly Peter Siddell also painted cityscapes; however they were more the exception than the rule.
These paintings are rare commodities and even today cityscapes are not a subject explored by artists with any great enthusiasm. Chris Pole, Tyrone Layne, Hugh Major, Justin Summerton, Aaron Waghorn and George Baloghy are a few of the exceptions in New Zealand today however, and over 20 Cityscape paintings are included in this exhibition.