Friday, February 19, 2010

William Sykes Baverstock
O.B.E., F.R.S.A.
born 2 August 1893 Norwich, Norfolk, England
died 11 October 1975 Princess Margaret Hospital, Christchurch
aged 82 years
buried Bromley Cemetery block 34 plot 43NS

Family - William Baverstock was born in Norwich, Norfolk, England in 1893 the son of Alice Baverstock nee Sykes and William Baverstock. His father a lithographic artist was born in Pentonville, London about 1866 and his mother was born in Preston, Lancashire about 1862. There were two other known children both also born in Norwich; Harry about 1896 and Doris about 1900. The 1901 census shows the family living at 26 Wellington Road, Norwich. William's grandfather Thomas John Baverstock was a gold wire drawer.

William arrived in New Zealand with his family late in 1901; his sister Doris died nine months after their arrival aged 1 year 9 months. His mother died in 1922 and his father in 1964 aged 98 years. His brother Harry, a school master died in 1984 aged 84 years.

Director of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery
Baverstock was Secretary of the Canterbury Society of Arts, Part-time Curator of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery from 1943 to 1960 and Director (full time) of the McDougall Art Gallery from 1960 to c.1970.

above: William Sykes Baverstock in 1967

above: In the Gallery, October 1968
William Baverstock with Mrs Margarida Guedes Nogueira, Her Excellency the Ambassador for Brazil in Australia and New Zealand, Peter Skellerup, Hon Consul for Denmark, and Frank Thorpy, Hon. Consul for Brazil.

Robert McDougall Art
GalleryExhibition Opening 1969
the left: Mr Hamish G. Hay, Chairman of the Cultural Committee; Sir Arthur Porritt, Governor General; Lady Porritt; Mr William S. Baverstock, Gallery Director. Shown is the painting Ena Te Papatahi by Charles Frederick Goldie, presented to the Gallery in 1932 by the family of James Jamieson.
Photo by Green and Hahn

above: William Baverstock with The Satara Player by Petrus van der Velden.
This painting was bequeathed to the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in 1964 by Majorie Bassett.

above and below: in 1973 an exhibition of Drawings and Caricatures by William Baverstock was held in the C.S.A Gallery. The photograph below shows Baverstock with Peter Skellerup.

A Lighter Side of Art
A Retrospective Exhibition of Drawings, Caricatures and Designs by
Wm. S. Baverstock, O.B.E., F.R.S.A.
Opened by Cr. Peter J. Skellerup on
Sunday, July 8, 1973

above - a copy of the resignation letter of W. S. Baverstock date 11 August 1968.

Chch authority on art dies at 82
One of Christchurch's authorities on art, Mr W.S. Baverstock, died late last week. He was aged 82.

Mr Baverstock was born in Norwich, England, and came to New Zealand in 1901, when his father took charge of the lithographic department of "The Press."

While at the Canterbury College of Art he won two scholarships, and was awarded a first class diploma by the Society of Arts. His wide range of interests included caricatures, illuminated designs, and drawings, as well as painting.

He was a member of the management committee of Children's Health Camp from 1935, and was responsible for planning the health camps of New Zealand.

He was from its beginning a member of the Glenelg Health Camp committee, and a prominent member of the committee of the Friends of the Canterbury Museum. He was an honorary member of the museum staff and restored its paintings.

He was secretary-treasurer of the Canterbury Society of Arts, and the minute-books he kept constitute a history of art in Canterbury. His service to the society lasted from 1943 to 1959.

In 1948, he was appointed honorary curator of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, and in 1960 he became its first full-time director. In 1950, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

He managed 90 major exhibitions for the Christchurch City Council, and 31 for the Arts Society. For many of these he prepared the catalogues and wrote all the advertising. In addition, he developed a print lending scheme and without fee, attended to hundreds of inquiries about works of art.

Mr Baverstock was the longest-serving member of the Christchurch Savage Club, and did many black-and-white caricatures for the club.

He was awarded the O.B.E. for his service to children and the arts.

The Press, 13 October 1975.

A review of the book "In Memory of William Sykes Baverstock O.B.E., F.R.S.A." dated 2 February 1980.

William and his brother Harry's grave in Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch.
AGR 21.2.2010

Baverstock, William Sykes, O.B.E., F.R.S.A., of 40 Berwick Street, St Albans - On October 11, 1975, at The Princess Margaret Hospital, dearly loved brother of Harry, also loved friend of Norman and Rangi Oberg; aged 82 years, (Suddenly.) The Funeral service will be held in St Matthew's Anglican Church, Cranford Street, Tomorrow (Tuesday), October 14, at 2 p.m. Interment there-after at the Bromley Cemetery. J Lamb and Son Ltd.

Alice and William Baverstock's grave at Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch
AGR 14.3.2010

from an undated Christchurch Press article
$17,500 bid refused

An important oil painting of the Otira Gorge riverbed by Petrus Van der Velden failed to reach its reserve price at auction in Christchurch yesterday.

The bidding opened at $15,000 and it was passed in at $17,500, but the auctioneer, Mr Barry Watson, said a private sale was being negotiated.
The 61cm by 91cm painting, which was part of H. S. Baverstock's Estate, is one a series of about 10 of the Otira Gorge, painted by Van der Velden in 1891 and 1893. Many of these are owned by art galleries and are rarely offered for sale.

A reserve price of $22,000 was put on the painting just before the auction, and Mr Watson believed this was because of publicity that the painting had to be sold yesterday.

He was disappointed with the quiet bidding and said he did not know what went wrong. The other paintings at the auction, from the Baverstock Estate and private collections, sold well, he said.

Van der Velden was born in Rotterdam in 1837 and emigrated to New Zealand in 1890 because he had problems having his work accepted in the Netherlands. Although he had no formal art training, he was a mature painter by the time he came to New Zealand. A "romantic realist" he taught in both the Netherlands and New Zealand. One of his most famous students was Vincent Van Gogh.
He was a prolific painter and most New Zealand art galleries have his works, according to Mr Neil Roberts, the curator at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery.While he was in New Zealand he painted many Dutch subjects, and Mr Roberts said his Marken (Dutch), and Otira works were his most important.Mr Roberts said Van der Velden's best Otira work was in the Dunedin Public Gallery, but the C.S.A. Gallery, the Wellington Art Gallery, and the Robert McDougall Art Gallery also have versions. the Robert McDougall Gallery also owns another important Van der Velden painting, "The Dutch Funeral"

The painting offered for sale was owned by Mr W. S. Baverstock, a former director of the Robert McDougall Gallery, and was passed to his brother, Mr H. S. Baverstock, when he died.

Petrus Van der Velden.
The Alexander Turnbull Library has a photograph by William Baverstock of Ngaio Marsh, reclining in a chair taken in the 1930s. (refer here) A photograph of "Billy Baverstock" is included in Ngaio Marsh's biography by Margaret Lewis. The photograph taken at the 1936 Group Exhibition in Christchurch by Olivia Spencer Bower also shows Ngaio Marsh and the painters Rata Lovell-Smith, Margaret Anderson and Phyllis Bethune among others.

The Museum of New Zealand has 12 photographs by William Baverstock:
Untitled (Circus performers)
Untitled (Circus performers)
Man on a beach
Mount Tasman and Mount Cook 1936 - 1937?
Coaches at Arthurs Pass 1930s
Mount Tasman and Mount Cook 1936 - 1937?
Untitled [Ngaio Marsh] 1936 - 1937?
Native wood pigeon 1936 - 1937?
Ships in Picton
Maori at Akaroa
Wellington waterfront 1927-1928
Ngaio Marsh as Hamlet

above - Watson's Fine Art Auction notice of 30 May 2006 showing a portrait by Ivy Fife of William Sykes Baverstock. This portrait is now held by the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.

Harry Sykes Baverstock
died 20 July 1983

above - the death notice of Harry Sykes Baverstock

above - the obituary of Harry Sykes Baverstock from The Press 21 July 1983.


  1. Hello
    Ara Institute of Canterbury has an artwork of William Sykes Baverstock. Could you please advise us how we van contact relatives of him for Copyright purposes.

    We would appreciate any help.

    Thank you

    Best regards

    Alla Landreth

  2. Hello Alla, drop me an email at