Thursday, September 20, 2012

Petrus Van der Velden

2013 - the 100th anniversary of the death of
Petrus van der Velden 
Laborare est orare 

also see:

born 5 May 1837 Rotterdam
arrived 21 June 1890 Lyttelton, New Zealand on the s. s. "Waihora" aged 53 years
died 11 November 1913 Auckland aged 76 years

married 1stly 3 August 1876 Rotterdam
Sophia Wilhelmina Eckhart
 she died 2 May 1899 at French Street, North Sydney (1)

1. Wilhelm "Willem" van der Velden born 18 June 1877 at Wassenaar (1), died 23 June 1954, Australia. Photographer, unmarried.
2. Gerard "Gerrit" van der Velden 8 April 1880 at Wassenaar (1), died 20 November 1943, New South Wales, Australia. In 1914 he was appointed Vice-Consul for the Netherlands at Christchurch (4) unmarried.

3. Hendrika Alice "Riek" van der Velden born 20 March 1882 at Wassenaar (1), died 22 January 1934 at a private hospital in Darlinghust, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (3) unmarried. 

married 2ndly
4 February 1904 at the Wellington Registry office
Australia Wahlberg (1)
born circa 1875  
registered 1875 Redfern, New South Wales number 5126
daughter of Peter Wahlberg, builder (born Sweden) and his wife Rhoda Howarth (born Ireland)
 she died 22 December 1955 Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia

4. Noel van der Velden born circa 1906 reg. 1906/2174, died circa 1906 aged 26 days, reg.  1906/7887. Buried Karori Cemetery, Wellington 20 January 1906 aged 26 days. Section Public2 plot 38 I record no. 102955. (2)

5. Melba van der Velden born 22 May 1909 Wellington (1) reg. 1909/6433. commercial artist, unmarried.

above - Petrus van der Velden by Francis Lawrence Jones, 168 George Street, Dunedin.
 on loan to - Christchurch Art Gallery - Te Puna o Waiwhetu

The van der Velden family arrived at Port Phillip, Melbourne on the R.M.S.S. Orizaba. This vessel left London on 25th April 1890 and called in at Plymouth the following day. She anchored at Gibraltar at 7.20am on April 30th and later embarked passengers at Naples and left there on 5 May, Port Said was reached at noon on the 8th May and Suez the following day. Colombo was reached on 5.55am on 20th May and she arrived at Albany at 1am on 31 May and Adelaide at 7.50am on 3rd June. Port Phillip Heads was entered on Wednesday 4th June 1890.
The Argus, Friday 6 June 1890 page 10

above - R.M.S.S. Orizaba of the Orient line

s.s. Waihora 2,003 tons, for New Zealand ports via Hobart. Departed 11 June 1890.
Saloon passengers Mr. and Mrs. Vander Velder (sic) and family (three)
Argus, Thursday, June 12, 1890 page 4

Press, Volume XLVII, Issue 7585, 23 June 1890, Page 4
The van der Velden family arrived at Lyttelton on the 21 June 1890 from Melbourne on the s.s. Waihora.

Topics of the Day.
It will be remembered that one of the points about New Zealand which most impressed Mr Christie Murray as an amateur artist, as well as a literary man, was the immense scope which its varied and beautiful scenery offered for the exercise of the painter's skill. There is every probability, in fact, that in the future European artists will come to these islands for the purpose of finding new fields to conquer with the palette and pencil. The lake and mountain scenery of New Zealand, enriched by atmospheric effects that are probably unobtainable in any other part of the world, is virgin soil so far as the great artists of the old world are concerned, but can hardly remain so for any length of time.

The visit of Chevalier undoubtedly did something in the way of making known at Home the picturesque scenery of New Zealand, and the works of Gully, Barraud, and other local artists exhibited in England have done something to draw attention to the capabilities of of the colony from an artists point of view.

It will probably be news to most of our readers to learn that a distinguished Dutch artist has just been led to pay the colony a visit, drawn hither by the promise which it holds out in the way of subjects for his canvas. The gentleman in question, Mynheer P. Van der Velden, is at present staying with his countryman, Mr Van Asch, at Sumner, and it is his intention to make a long sojourn in the colony for the purpose of thoroughly exploring its beauties and making pictures of the scenes which take his fancy.

Mr Van der Velden has just come out by the s.s. Orizaba (sic) from the Hague, where be holds a high reputation. The corporation of the city recently paid him the compliment of purchasing his picture of "The Cellist" for the collection of the work of modern artists in the National Museum. The latter, it is well known, contains the finest collection of Dutch paintings in the world, so that the honor paid to Mr Van der Velden is one of which any artist might feel proud.

An high compliment was conferred upon him in the purchase by the Government of another painting of his for the National Museum at Amsterdam, where there is a standing rule, we believe, not to exhibit more than one picture by any one living artist. This picture represents Marten fishermen playing at dominoes. A young fisherman holds "blank one," and is consequently certain of victory, but one of the fishermaidens, with a roguish expression of delight, is seen to be possessor of "double blank," which is the winning domino. Needless to say, the subject affords great scope for expression.

Fortunately it is not necessary to go as far as Holland to see examples of Mr Van der Velden's work. Many visitors to the Sumner Institute have seen a large and very striking painting there, the subject of which is a fisherman's funeral in the island of Marken — a curious old-world spot—in the Zuyder Zee. It is winter time, and there is deep snow on the ground. The coffin is being pushed along on sledge, and the mournful procession of fisher-folk from the hamlet are walking in the rear A quaint-looking old Dutch church is seen in the background, and the winter atmosphere and the look in the sky which tells of more snow to come, are very finely caught. This is the work of Mr Van der Velden, executed about a dozen years ago, and anyone with even average appreciation, looking at it, and noting the soulful character of the work - would at once say it was the work of a true artist, with the sympathetic instincts so necessary for the expression of the higher ideas of his work.

This impression is strengthened by a conversation with the visitor, with whom a representative of the Press, recently spent a pleasant hour or two. The idea which one has of the work of some of the older Dutch artists is that they were often painfully conscientious in regard to details. Some of the "interiors" by Dutch artists, which most visitors to the large galleries at Home will call to mind, are more like photographs in this respect than paintings. This Mr Van der Velden admits, is the case with some of the older artists, men like Wouvermans, for instance. In his battle-pieces, you note every button on the warrior's coat, and the effect which it gives you is that the men were drawn not on the field of battle but in a studio. Never do you find such faults, however, in Rembrandt, of whom the visitor speaks with the patriotic pride natural in mentioning so great a name among his countrymen. The aim of the true artist now-a-days - so Mr Van der Velden holds - is to see that his picture tells its story, bringing into prominence those features which are necessary to its expression, and being careful not to obtrude details which detract from the main idea.

Holland has long been known for excellent artistos to whom it has given birth. Besides Rembrandt - facile princeps — the names of Cuyp, Gerard Douw, Ostade, Ruysdael, Van der Velden readily occur to the memory.  Among modern artists of European reputationu few higher than Alma-Tadema, who now a naturalised Englishman, was born and educated in the Netherlands. It is satisfactory to learn, therefore that art receives a good deal of public encouragement in Holland.

We have shown how this takes the form of the purchase of good pictures by the Government and municipalities. We also learn that there are Government and municipal art-schools and that, in addition to this, drawing is taught in all public schools as part of the course.

There is now a national system of education in the Netherlands, and there is already there as elsewhere a cry of  "overpressure" - concerning which Mr Van der Velden, by the way, has strong views, holding that in too many instances the health of the rising generation is being sacrificed to "cram."

We feel sure that our artist visitor will be welcome to New Zealand, and trust that he may find ample compensation in the natural beauties of the colony for the long journey which he has under taken in the interests of his art.
Press, Volume XLVII, Issue 7585, 23 June 1890, Page

... Sumner is not to be despised from a picturesque point of view. Those people who do not believe in the natural beauty which is to be found at their own doors will perhaps be surprised when they learn that Mr Van der Velden, the Dutch artist, who is among the latest visitors to Sumner, has found much to admire in the place. He was greatly struck by the evidences of plutonic energy displayed by the rugged hills around.

A sight which can hardly fail to evoke his artistic appreciation is a view of the Estuary under a nor'-wester" sky, when the waste is lighted with, the most wonderful effects, while the Kaikoura mountains, which are usually visible at the same time, form an extremely beautiful background...
Press, Volume XLVII, Issue 7592, 1 July 1890, Page 6

Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 7761, 15 January 1891, Page 1

Exhibition of Pictures.
To-day the Art Society's Gallery will be open to show a collection of pictures from the studio of Mr Van der Velden — one of the first of the Old World artists with a European reputation who has come to paint New Zealand scenery.

The two pieces of New Zealand work which Mr Van der Velden exhibits will be interesting to the lovers of art in Christchurch, through offering comparison between the work of New Zealanders and the work of a European artist on their ground, while the larger pictures will prove attractive both to art patrons and the general public on account of their unusual merit and the uncommon scenes they depict. Visitors to the Society's recent exhibition will remember a picture of Mr Van der Velden's, showing a winter funeral in the Isle of Marken. To-day there stands with it in the Gallery a picture unfinished yet, but wonderfully striking, showing a summer funeral. Both pictures are taken from Marken, an island in the Zuyder Zee, some miles to the north of Amsterdam — a quaint old world place, with a population of simple fisher folks, whose picturesque surroundings and strange customs have attracted other artists besides Mr Van der Velden. The summer picture shows a boat containing a coffin being towed along a deep still scream that wanders through a low level land. The wife of the dead man, according to the fashion of the island, lies face downward on the coffin, and the small procession of followers tramp through the dark sedge by the water towards a church showing dimly across a stretch of low flat land. There is a solemn force about the picture, even in its unfinished state, which attracts one strangely.

In a corner of the gallery, standing on an easel, is a large picture only just finished. It is the result of Mr Van de Velden's summer work, and bears evidence of infinite labor and thought. It is named "An Anxious Future," and shows the interior of a fisher cottage — a man lying drunk on the settle, and the young wife sitting by the spinning wheel, sad browed, and with a world of anxious fear in her eyes. It is a striking sermon against intemperance.

The two other pictures of Marken life are more quaint and interesting than tragic. One shows a scene of Three Kings Day on the island, a festival that we know little about, though Abel Van Tasman named those islands, known so nearly every passenger between Sydney and Auckland, Drie Koningen Eiland — Three Kings Isle, turned by us New Zealanders into the Three Kings." The festival has its origin no doubt in the story of the kings who came out of the East to see the Babe at Bethlehem, for it occurs soon after Christmas Day. The picture shows how the folks at Marken keep it in memory. There is a sturdy fellow twirling a screen, shaped like an umbrella, on which are painted stars and other emblems of the wonderful story, singing with all his might a song which no - doubt tells of those who came to worship at Bethlehem nearly nineteen hundred years ago.

The other picture shows Sunday afternoon on the Isle of Marken, which suggests that the honest islanders, like some of our more modern people, like to show off their best clothes, or lounge about and gossip on the Sabbath. The quaint houses and costumes, however, show a bit of the world so different from ours that we could scarcely believe it existed did we not know that it was taken from life by an artist who is now amongst us.

The New Zealand pictures teach us what can be found even in our most ordinary scenery. There is a Moonlight Ride — a horseman defiling through a cutting somewhere on the road between Port Chalmers and Dunedin. The moonlight showing through the broken clouds and shining on horseman and road, where the gleam of water speaks of recent rain, the walls of the cutting, grim silent shadows, all speak of an art that can invest even a gloomy road with poetry and feeling.

The second picture shows a glimpse of the river at Avonside, under a nor'-west sky — an evening sky, holding a brilliance so wonderful that one almost expects it to change as one looks at it. The light shines on the river, gleams through the willows that edge the bank, and shows a woman stooping to dip water near an old landing place, and a cow just visible in shadow turning its head towards her. It is a piece of the Avon poetised; there is something in it besides willows and water. These seven pictures form the collection exhibited by Mr Van der Velden, but there is so much work, and thought in them that they constitute a whole gallery, and visitors, no matter how much they, look, will not. exhaust them whilst the gallery remains open.

Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 7762, 16 January 1891, Page 7

Exhibition of Paintings.
Doubtless there was not a visitor to the recent exhibition of the Art Society who did not admire the fine picture of "A Funeral in Holland," by Mr Van der Velden. Our readers will, therefore, be glad to learn that some more of the works of this artist are now on view at the Art Gallery.

These are six in number — three finished oil paintings and three sketches. Of the former the largest is the most noteworthy, not, of course, on account of its size, but because of its merit. It represents the interior of a cottage in Marten — that lowlying island of the Zuyder Zee — among whose people, with their quaint costumes, Mr Van der Velden has made many an interesting study. The husband is lying in drunken stupor on a seat, and the young wife, her fair face contracted with trouble, and the fishing net, on which she had been working, lying by her side, is sadly ruminating over "an anxious future." The treatment of the subject is excellent. Two landscapes, one a moonlight scene of a gorge near Port Chalmers, the other a Nor'-west sunset at Avonside, will show our artists what a painter of a very high order of ability can do with New Zealand scenery.

Of the three sketches, the largest represents a funeral on Marken in the summer time. The skilful grouping of the figures and the natural colouring render it a worthy companion picture to the funeral in winter above referred to.

The other sketches are more cheerful in character, being scenes of life in the streets of the Marken village, the picturesque dresses of the fisherfolk adding touches of bright colour, which relieve the somewhat sombre effect of the leaden sky and dull coloured, but picturesque buildings. The artistic merit of all the pictures is such that our amateurs could not but derive great benefit from studying them. They will be on view for a short season.
Star, Issue 7064, 16 January 1891, Page 3

Mr Van der Velden's Pictures.— Mr Van der Velden's exhibition of pictures in the Art Gallery has given great pleasure to the lovers of art in Christchureh. Late in the afternoon his Excellency the Governor, accompanied by his aide de camp, visited the gallery and seemed interested in tbe works of art and with the quaint costumes of the Marken folk. Mr Van Asch acted as interpreter for the artist and explained many interesting items in the local features of the pictures. The exhibition will be open to-day, and as now the Christchurch people have the chance of seeing besides unique scenes of a unique life, pictures of New Zealand by a European artist, the gallery will probably receive a large number of visitors.  
 Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 7763, 17 January 1891, Page 5

Passengers for the West Coast.
Jan. 20— Booked at Warner's Commercial Hotel for the West Coast :— Fathers Bowers and Briand, Messrs J. W. Joynt, J. H. Lewis, Boland (2), F. Le Breton, H. von Haast [Heinrich Ferdinand von Haast (1864-1953)], P. von der Velden, and G. von Asch.
Star, Issue 7067, 20 January 1891, Page 3

Passengers for the West Coast.
Bealey, March 4. There are eight passengers by coach for Christchurch, viz., Dr John Guthrie, Mrs Guthrie, Messrs P. Van der Velden (Christchurch), W. Summerhays, P. Barrowman (Greymouth), W. Lambert (Melbourne), G. C. Saxton and Miss Saxton (Akaroa).
Star, Issue 7104, 4 March 1891, Page 3

Otira Gorge
by E. Wheeler and Son -  Protected January 22 1892

Society of Arts.

The Black and White Exhibition. There was a large and fashionable attendance at the Art Gallery last evening, on the occasion of the opening of the third exhibition of "Black and White." His Excellency the Governor, who was accompanied by Lady Onslow and Captain Guthrie, was met at the entrance to the gallery by Mr Richmond Beetham, the President, and tbe officers of the Society, and conducted to the platform at the end of the room, whilst the National Anthem was played...

...There was one other thing he wished to mention. It was that they had in their midst an artist of no mean repute. Last year he had seen some of Mr Van Der Velden's pictures, and he could not help
being struck with the artistic value and beauty of those productions. He was glad that Mr Van Der Velden had devoted himself to New Zealand scenery, as he had as wide a field here for his talents and his brush as in his native land. His Excellency did not think that he could do better than ask them to devote themselves to the examination of the pictures which they now saw in the collection.

Star, Issue 7314, 7 November 1891, Page 4

Art Society.
The Black and White Exhibition.
First Notice.

The Canterbury Art Society are to be congratulated on two things in connection with their annual Black and White Exhibition. The first is, that the works of the younger artists show that great advances have been made by them during the year; and the second, that we have in our midst an artist of such standing as Mr Van Der Velden, whose studies will be of infinite value to the young artists. There could not be any more potent factor in the education of our rising artists than the study of the technique of art fully developed in the sketches of Mr Van Der Velden, which occupy the west wall of the gallery. It is to be hoped that those for whose benefit they are exhibited will take advantage of an opportunity which very rarely comes in the way of students in a far off place such as this...
Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 8015, 9 November 1891, Page 3

Society of Arts.
Black and White Exhibition. 
... His Excellency the Governor did well, in opening the Exhibition, to direct attention as pointedly as possible to the grand work shown by Van der Velden. Notwithstanding the fact that this is a Black aud White Exhibition, the Council of the Society very wisely permitted Mr Van der Velden to show some large canvases in colour. It would have been unfortunate, indeed, if the public had not been afforded an opportunity of seeing how such a painter, whose ordinary mode, of treatment differ widely from the English school, would depict such marvellous scenery as is to be found in the Otira Gorge. We are not at all sure that this particular "bit" could be precisely located; but there can be no question that the true character of the locality its rocks, its rushing water, its luxuriant vegetation has been caught with rare fidelity.

The breadth of treatment, the solidity and force of the manipulative style, and the harmony of the ensemble, win involuntary admiration. Still, the picture lovers of the community owe their best thanks to Mr Van der Velden for the generous freedom with which he has placed a large number of sketches at the disposal of the Council. In these we can best see how an artist of admittedly high standing pursues his studies, and by what simple means the practised hand can record telling effects.

In the ships and boats, and in some of the figure studies there are some wonderfully clover fore shortenings; and, in other examples, such as the "Christos," there is a suggestiveness such as at once wins appreciation. We thank Mr Van der Velden, on behalf of the visitors to the gallery, for the instructive pleasure he has been the mean of affording them.

Star, Issue 7316, 10 November 1891, Page 1


We understand that the Auckland Society of Arts has invited Mr Van der Velden, of Christchurch, to take part in its annual exhibition, and that this gifted painter is sending three pictures up, and will endeavour to visit the exhibition in person.
Observer, Volume XI, Issue 687, 27 February 1892, Page 17

On 1 December he traveled to Auckland on the s.s. Te Anau sailing from Lytellton (as Mr. Vandervelden)
Star, Issue 7435, 2 December 1892, Page 2 

Personal.— It is rumoured that Mr P. Van de Velden, the eminent Dutch painter, who has been in Christchurch for some time, has decided to remain permanently in New Zealand. If this is so, it will be a good thing for colonial art, as his influence cannot fail to be felt among the young New Zealand artists.
Press, Volume XLIX, Issue 8322, 5 November 1892, Page 6

The sixteenth annual exhibition of the Otago Art Society, and the third annual exhibition of the Dunedin Photographic Society, was opened last evening in the Choral Hall, in the gallery of the former society...

...It is pleasing to notice the old names recurring in the catalogue as contributors of works to the gallery, and it is even more pleasing to find that the number of exhibitors from other portions of the colony is considerably above the average. Conspicuous among these latter is Mr P. Van der Velden, a European artist who has been residing in Canstphurch for some time. An example of New Zealand scenery — a large canvas hung on the east wall, facing the visitor on his entrance to the gallery is remarkable for the boldness of its execution, and is distinctly the most striking work in the gallery. It is matter for regret that Mr Van der Velden has only two finshed works in the gallery — and the fact that no price is stated against the names of these in the catalogue may be assumed to indicate that, neither of them is for sale — but the opportunity is offered to those who intend visiting the exhibition of inspecting some 74 studies and sketches of his which adorn the walls of an anteroom.
Otago Daily Times, Issue 9577, 5 November 1892, Page 3

 Otago Daily Times, Issue 9576, 4 November 1892, Page 1.

above: In November 1892 Van der Velden travelled to Dunedin by train. He returned to Christchurch on 8 November by train. (Otago Daily Times, Issue 9580, 9 November 1892, Page 1)

Artistic—-There is now on view at the shop of Mr J. W. Gibb, Cathedral square, a wonderful illustration of the artistic management of light effect. This is a picture by Mr Van der Velden, the wellknown Dutch artist, which he calls "An Old Fisherman." It is a bust picture of a weather-beaten, rugged old salt, with a ray of light falling upon one side of his countenance. The whole picture is a really magnificent exposition of artistic detail, the work being wonderfully good. As an object lesson to our young artists such a picture is invaluable.
Press, Volume L, Issue 8388, 23 January 1893, Page 5

Artistic.— There is now on view at the studio of Mr W. J. Gibb, Cathedral square, a magnificent bit of artistic work in the shape of a water colour by the eminent painter Mr Van Der Velden. It is a head of a Dutch fisherman in his quaint national garb. The face is of an old sea dog, gnarled and seamed with the blasts of many winters, whilst his eyes peer out under his shaggy brows with that intensity always noticeable in sailors. All these details, added to a marvelously artistic bit of light effect, have been most powerfully pourtrayed [sic] by Mr Van Der Velden, and as a study of what can be done in water colour work it is perhaps the finest exemplification we have ever had here. It has been purchased by Mr E. W. Roper [Edward William Roper - wine merchant], who also possesses the very fine picture of "An old Dutch Custom" by the same artist. The picture is well worth inspection.
Press, Volume L, Issue 8437, 21 March 1893, Page 4

Artistic. The picture of the Otira Gorge, presented by Mr P. Van Der Velden to the Avonside Church Sunday school fund, which is really an artistic gem, is now on view at the shop of Messrs Milner and Thompson, High street. It is to be disposed of by Art Union, and the requisite permission has been obtained from the Colonial Secretary.
Press, Volume L, Issue 8515, 21 June 1893, Page 4

Fine Arts.— There is now on view at Messrs H. Fisher and Sons', High street, a very fine example of Mr P. Vandervelden's work. The picture is entitled "The Mouse-trap," and represents a boy holding the trap with a mouse in it which he has just caught. The face of the boy is beautifully painted, the expression of pleasure being very cleverly caught.
Star, Issue 4710, 31 July 1893, Page 3

In a Local Studio.
(by our special reporter.)
 "Come and have a chat in my studio,", was the hospitable invitation extended by Mr Van der Velden, the well-known, artist. "I have several pictures in hand which I should like you to see."

Accordingly one afternoon in the past week a visit was paid to the studio, and a most enjoyable hour or so was spent. Passing out from the every day aspect of things in the street, to the quaint old-world appearance of the studio, one seems to have been suddenly, as if by the old fairy story magic carpet, transported to another hemisphere. Old oak carved cabinets with elaborate designs showing through the blackness of age, quaint doublets and old-fashioned goblets and bric a brac of the time of the Fourteenth Louis are seen on every hand; whilst standing about in that admired disorder which is artistic neatness, pictures, in various stages of completion, look out at one.

The first to call for attention is "The Violiniste," a very fine study of colour and light, worked out with that artistic facility and completeness which mark the artist's work. It is a striking likeness of the young Dutch violiniste here with Madame Belle Cole. The dress is a rich plush, the tints of which contrast very finely with the brown tone-of-the violet.
Three other pictures next came under review. The first of these was "The Seventh Age," a fine study of an old and wrinkled dame. Then there was one in which a sailor is telling a tale of the sea to a youngster. The deep interest evinced in the narrative is well depicted in the face of the boy, whilst the old salt is also well done. As a delineator of the quaint customs of his country, Mr Van der Velden shows not only great artistic power but considerable descriptive skill. There was one picture in the studio which amply illustrated this. It is called "A Dutch Funeral," and shows the coffin being brought alongside the low banks of a canal.  The sky is grey and sombre, and the whole picture is in accord with the minor key of the subject. The only bit of colour is the white cap of the widow, who, in accordance with the custom of the country, is out stretched on the coffin.

The other wonderfully good examples of the clever effects the artist produces with light are also to be seen. In one of these "Candlelight," a girl is shading a candle with her hand. The scarlet blood in the veins is shown up with startling fidelity, whilst the effect of the light on the face is most artistically managed.

Another one in which the effect of light is worked out with great skill is that of a girl with a violin in her hand tuning it. She is dressed in a crimson dress, and the sunlight coming in at the window makes a strong note of colour on this and on her golden hair. A "Dutch Marriage" is another powerful reproduction of Dutch customs. The severely plain — almost ugly — interior of the chapel is well done, as is also the peculiar costumes of the bridal procession.

Though strongly national in the matter of reproduction of Dutch scenery, &c, Mr Van der Velden does not neglect his adopted country, New Zealand. He has at the studio a very fine picture of Mount Rolleston, and also another very well painted of a waterfall in the Otira Gorge. The peculiar colour of the snow torrent and its impetuosity as it runs and frets over the brown boulders have been most effectively reproduced.

So we chat and talk of art and pictures, surrounded and perhaps inspired by the productions of the facile brush of our artist host. Mr Van der Velden, it may be noted, is contemplating a new departure, in the direction of taking up portrait painting, and a specimen of his work in this department of art will be seen in a few days. A tour round the studio and an examination of the many quaint artistic objects collected follows, and then it is time to say au revoir to Mr Van der Velden, and come back once more to the matter-of-fact business of life.
Press, Volume LI, Issue 8989, 31 December 1894, Page 5

Undoubtedly the first artist in New Zealand is Herr Van der Velder (sic), the well-known Hollander, whose pictures are so well-known in the galleries of his native country. A few years back Herr Van der Velder (sic) came out with his family on a visit to New Zealand, and was so charmed with the country that he took up his residence in Christchurch. His works have since become familiar in the local exhibitions, but so far stay-at-home Wellingtonians have had little opportunity of judging of their quality. Her (sic) Van der Velder (sic) has now, however, sent up for exhibition here two large and characteristic works, and they are to be seen at M'Gregor Wright's establishment on Lambton-quay. One large picture shown in the windows is entitled " The Satara Player." It is a splendid picture of a Moor, glowing with life and colour, the modelling and flesh tints, particularly, admirably arranged. The other large picture is a characteristic moonlight scene, all haze and mystery, a lighted cabin growing out of the gloom as the spectator watches the picture.
Evening Post, Volume XLIX, Issue 104, 3 May 1895, Page 3

Press, Volume LII, Issue 9249, 29 October 1895, Page 1

Art Union.—The arrangements for the Art Union of Mr Van Der Velden's oil paintings and sketches are now complete. The prizes are as under:—
First prize, "The Orphans," 75in x 44in, valued at £150
2nd, "The Satara Player," 32x46, £100
3rd, "Repose," 37x25, £75
4th, landscape, "Mount Rolleston," 65x38, £75;
5th, landscape, "Noordwyk, by Moonlight," 46x36, £50; 6th, "Incident in the Life of Admiral Ruyter," 21x19, £50;
7th, Interior —"Sunday Afternoon," 25x15, £25.

There will be five hundred tickets at a guinea each, and every subscriber will have a full-plate photo of "A Sorrowful Future." The drawing will take place shortly.
Press, Volume LIII, Issue 9314, 15 January 1896, Page 5

Mr. Vander Velden, the well-known Dutch artist, who has resided in Christchurch for some time, has lately been very fortunate is disposing of his pictures. In an art union two of his pictures fetched £400, whilst five smaller studies brought £100. The National Council of Women proposed that the Government be advised to purchase a large canvas called "The Sorrowful Future" (a prophetic subject if all the hare-brained schemes of the advanced women are brought into effect), but the resolution fell through, owing to Lady Stout's opposition, on the ground that it was not within the province of the council to "advise" Government on the subject.
Australian Town and Country Journal, Saturday 23 May 1896 page 35

Letters of naturalisation have been issued in favour of Peter Augustine Galerne, Catholic priest, and Petrus van der Velden, artist, both of Christchurch.
Star, Issue 5621, 20 July 1896, Page 3

Messrs. A. Molton & Son, of Flinders-street, have received from New Zealand two large oil paintings which they have framed and placed on view in their establishment for the benefit of art lovers. Mount Rolleston, West Coast, New Zealand, is the title of an impressive representation of gloomy grandeur. The mountain is in deep shadow, and tho whole of the lovely scene, with the exception of a burst of golden light in the evening sky, is veiled in obscurity. The brush work throughout is of the boldest and freest, but seen at the proper distance the broad masses of - color seem full of detail. Immediately under the eye of the spectator there is a turmoil of seawater which rushes over and between masses of rock. The picture, which measures 65 in. x 39 in., is the work of P. Vander Velden, a Dutch painter deservedly popular in New Zealand.
Chronicle (Adelaide, SA),  Saturday 14 November 1896, page 25

Artistic. — It will be a source of great regret to the true lovers of art, not alone in Canterbury, but throughout New Zealand, to learn that Mr P. Van der Velden is leaving the colony at an early date. His departure will leave a blank in artistic circles whioh cannot be easily filled. Mr Van der Velden has on view at his studio, not only a number of paintings of his own, but also some works of art recently imported from Holland and retouched by him. These will be on view at the studio any day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and will well repay inspection.
Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9807, 17 August 1897, Page 4

Art Gallery.
To the Editor,

Sir,— There is to be seen in Mr Van der Velden's studio one of the finest of the many fine pictures which have come from his brush. It is entitled "Homeward Bound," and represents a Dutch shepherdess ferrying part of her flock across a quiet and richly-wooded stream. It is excellent in composition, full of pure rich colour, and would form a most fitting memento of the genius of Mr Van der Velden, who, after some years' residence amongst us, is leaving for a wider field of labour.

Our Art Gallery has no example of this artist's work, and the Art Society is not in a position to purchase one. The Council are unanimous in their appreciation of the work, and will contribute as liberally as possible for its purchase. The price is £l25, and I am confident that there are a sufficient number of art-loving people in Christchurch who will, by subscribing, enable this picture to be placed among those now forming our permanent collection. I should be pleased to receive subscriptions at an early date, as the picture is under offer only for a short time. I am, &c.,
S. Hurst Seager, Honorary Treasurer Art Society. 170, Hereford Street, Christchurch. 

Star, Issue 5990, 1 October 1897, Page 2

Topics of the Day
The effort now being made to secure one of Mr Van der Art Velden's pictures for the public Art Gallery is one which is, we think, worthy of support. Mr Van der Velden, after a residence here of some years, is leaving for Australia, and it would be a matter of regret if he were allowed to do so; without Christchurch obtaining an illustration of the genius be undoubtedly possesses. All other local artists are represented in our gallery, and but for the fact that the Art Society are at present engaged in paying off the liabilities incurred in erecting their buildings they would ere this have purchased one of the excellent pictures which have come from Mr Van der Velden's brush.

Several of these are to be seen at his studio and among them one entitled "Homeward Bound," a most pleasing and restful pastoral scene, in which a Dutch shepherdess is ferrying some of her flock across a winding stream with richly wooded banks. The picture is beautifully composed, full of rich pure colour, and would form a very valuable addition indeed to our present collection. It is for the purchase of this picture that the Art Society have contributed as liberally as their funds will permit, and for which donations are required. It should be remembered that in contributing towards its purchase the people of Christchurch are not only aiding to secure a means of pleasure and education for themselves and for those who follow, but they would be offering to Mr Van der Velden the most valued form of testimonial - a public recognition of his worth as a painter. The matter is in the hands of Mr S. Hurst Seager, the Hon. Treasurer of the Art Society, who will be glad to receive subscriptions at his office in Hereford street.

Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9855, 12 October 1897, Page 4

Mr P. Van der Velden.
A Regrettable Departure. Mr P. Van der Velden, whose studio at 189, Durham Street north, has been visited with intense delight by many scores of people, has intimated his "intended, though unwilling, departure from beautiful New Zealand." It is a departure that for various reasons is greatly to be regretted. So far as regards pictorial art in New Zealand Mr Van der Velden is sui generis. A Hollander born, trained to study nature under leaden skies, and listening to "the low moan of leaden coloured seas," he became imbued with a scheme of colouring that grew to be with him a second self; and, consciously or unconsciously, he cultivated a breadth of technique that has in it the stamp of individuality. It is easy to understand that there are, amongst true lovers of pictures, some who do not like the set of his palette, and who fail to appreciate his peculiar artistic moods. But the fact remains that Van der Velden is an artist to the manner born, gifted with the power of delineating subjects that appeal to him, with intense force, and gifted, too, with a keen appreciation of the effects producible by means of brilliant flecks of colour. Examples of his work will remain in New Zealand, and the fortunate possessors know full well that they hold good value for their outlay. And Mr Van der Velden's stay here will have had — it may be hoped — a by no means inappreciable effect upon some of our budding artists, teaching them, perhaps, to discard a niggling method for boldness and certainty.

Mr Van der Velden is leaving us at no distant date. In the meantime he has rearranged his studio so that a considerable number of his pictures may be seen to the best advantage, and he is desirous that they should be seen by all who wish. The subjects are many, and they are very varied. There are some that have been made familiar to us either by public or by private exhibition; and there are others, painted in the old days in Holland, that have been sent out here, and re-touched by the artist in accordance with his riper judgment. An enumeration of them is not necessary. They embrace figure studies, singly and in groups; interiors and exteriors; scenes of humour and of sadness; gloomy, rain-swept landscapes, and brilliant sunlit scenes; cloud-capped mountains, and fern-bordered torrents such as are to be seen in Westland. It may be apprehended that Mr Van der Velden's invitation to what must unfortunately be regarded as a final private view will be duly appreciated and taken advantage of; while the artist himself may rest assured that; when he leaves this country he will have with him the heartiest good wishes.

Star, Issue 5952, 18 August 1897, Page 1

Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9875, 4 November 1897, Page 8

Artistic.— An opportunity will be afforded to the public on Monday next of purchasing oil paintings by that celebrated artist Mr P. Van der Velden, as that gentleman has commissioned Mr Charles Clark to dispose of nine of his finest works by auction prior to his departure for Sydney. The pictures are now on view at Mr Clark's rooms, and have elicited loud encomiums from the large number of persons who have seen them.

Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9881, 11 November 1897, Page 4

Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9881, 11 November 1897, Page 8

Artistic. A number of paintings from the brush of Mr P. Van der Velden were submitted to auction at Mr Charles Clark's rooms, Hereford Street, yesterday, when "Port Hills" sold for £22 10s, "Winter" was passed in at 20gs, "The Poacher" at 60gs, "Homeward Bound" at 65gs, "Hackling Flax" at 45gs, "Creek on West Coast Road" at 35gs, and "Incident in the Life of Admiral Ruyter" at 23gs.
Star, Issue 6028, 16 November 1897, Page 2

Artistic. — A number of paintings from the brush of Mr P. Van der Velden were submitted to auction at Mr Charles Clark's rooms, Hereford Street, yesterday, when "Port Hills" sold for £22 10s, "Winter" was passed in at 20gs, "The Peacher" at 60gs, "Homeward Bound" at 65gs, "Hackling Flax" at 45gs, "Creek on West Coast Road" at 35gs, and "Incident in the Life of Admiral Ruyter" at 23gs.
Star, Issue 6028, 16 November 1897, Page 2

One of Mr Van der Velden's pictures, entitled "Homeward Bound," has been purchased by a gentleman in this city, and placed in the Art Gallery, the idea being that it shall become an item in the permanent collection. The painting is a fine...[further text missing]
Star, Issue 6030, 18 November 1897, Page 2

The Art Gallery.— All interested in our Art Gallery will be pleased to learn that arrangements have been made by which the line picture "Homeward Bound," by Mr Van der Velden, is secured for the collection, if sufficient funds can be raised within the next few months. About £60 is yet required. The picture has been removed to the Art Gallery, and it is hoped that sufficient subscriptions will be forthcoming in order that it may remain there permanently.
Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9887, 18 November 1897, Page 4

Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9889, 20 November 1897, Page 12

The Van der Velden family left Lyttelton on 30 April 1898 on the s. s. "Monowai" for Sydney via Wellington. The passenger list published in the Press on 2 May incorrectly gives their name as Van der Helden (Miss Van der Helden, Mrs Van der Helden and Masters Van der Helden) (2). Petrus van der Velden is not shown, however on their arrival in Sydney the passenger list published in the Sydney Morning Herald (5) shows the family as "Mr. and Mrs. Van der Velden and family." The "Monowai" arrived in Sydney on May 6 1898. Another  passenger on the "Monowai"on its voyage from Lyttelton to Wellington was the Premier the Hon. R. J. Seddon. Van der Velden would later paint a portrait of Seddon.

Paintings by a Dutch Artist.- The ranks of resident artists have been increased by the arrival here of Mr Petrus van der Velden, a native of Rotterdam, where he studied at the Art Schools. One of Mr Van der Velden's larger works, entitled "A Funeral in tho Isle of Marken, Zuyder Zee," was purchased by a gentleman hailing from Christchurch (N.Z.), whither the artist seems to have followed ins picture, for we learn that he has spent eight years in that city. Mr Van der Velden, who has now established his studio in Vickery's-chambers, is a figure painter, or he paints landscapes which derive their sentiment from human action, or interiors again with figures.

The new artist exhibits in these works vigour and a feeling for nature. His largest canvas, "Neglected," shows a bare and humble cottage interior, and the interest centres in a fisher-girl, seated in a chair beside the cot of her sleeping child. The young wife, in the depths of her misery at the realisation of her loneliness, has dropped her work, and gazes forth into the gloom with a fine look of pathos in her eyes. The painter has expressed with technical skill the slack pose of the limbs, as the whole frame momentarily collapses under the mental burden of grief. A faint glow of golden light touches one corner of the attic, and seems to give a note of promise and of hope in a work which is otherwise wholly in the minor key. This is not the only clever picture which the artist has on view. The figures of the rustic card-players in "the Conqueror" are full of character, and visitors will admire the "Funeral Scene." Herein the bereaved widow lies upon her husband's coffin in the open boat, which is punted by the mourners on the bank along the grey looking stream The heavy, rain-filled clouds seem to share in the sentiment of the melancholy scene. Altogether Mr. Van der Velden is a painter who should be welcomed here and his pictures will no doubt form fresh points of interest in the forthcoming exhibitions later in the year.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June 1898 page 4

Art Society Exhibition.
The Art Society's Exhibition, the private view of which will be held on Saturday, derives much of its strength this year from the many large works sent in by Messrs W Lister Lister and Albert J Hanson, and from the fact that Mr P. Van der Velden is represented for the first time.The Dutch painter has taken his subjects from peasant life in Holland, thus extending the scope of the show beyond the limits of the purely local.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 September 1898 page 6

Creek Scene, West Coast, New Zealand by Mr. Van der Velden
The Loser Pays by Mr Van der Velden
 Australian Town and Country Journal 2 September 1899 page 25

The Art Exhibition 1899
... Mr. P. Van der Velden's Dutch scenes strike a note of fresh ness "The Funeral" (No 56) shows grief-stricken women in a boat that is being punted by a man with a pole, who trudges over the snow on the bank. The heavy, snow-laden masses of cloud emphasise the peculiar effect which distinguishes a hard winter and give character to the scene. Mr. Van der Velden sends also "The Loser Pays" (No 109), showing a rustic, red-tiled Dutch interior, with a group of peasants playing cards - a striking "gallery" work, which at once compels attention. This artist also sends two torrent scenes somewhat alike in their general style and treatment - the latter essentially of the old school...
The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 19 August 1899 page 10 

"Poor Boy" by P. Van der Velden
  The Exhibition of the Society of Artist 1901
 Australian Town and Country Journal, Saturday 9 November 1901, page 23

Press, Volume LXI, Issue 11797, 22 January 1904, Page 5
The Press newspaper of Friday 22 January 1904 indicates that van der Velden arrived in Wellington from Sydney the previous Wednesday. The only vessel arriving in Wellington from Sydney on 20 January was the s.s. Victoria 2969 tons.

Art and Debt.
An Artist in Difficulties.
Judgment Summons Proceedings.
The association of art and monetary difficulties was inquired into in the Wellington Magistrate's Court yesterday, when P. Van der Velden, the well-known Dutch artist, was proceeded against by W. Gandar, of the Bellevue Hotel, for the recovery of £73 4s 9d. The inquiry was made by judgment summons proceedings, the amount involved being for board and lodging for debtor and his wife.
Van der Velden, in course of examination by Mr Weston, was asked what pictures have you now unsold?
Debtor replied: I have nothing whatever.
Have you any pictures stored in Sydney? - No.
Have you any pictures anywhere in the city of Wellington? - Not that belong to me. No.
Have you any at all? - I have painted a picture of Mr Seddon.
How many pictures have you painted during the last two years? - I do not know. I never count my pictures. I only count in colours.
Do you knock them off so often that you cannot remember how many you painted? - I remember one picture I have painted. I wanted £100 for it. The Art Society got it. They have always no money in the Art Society, and they offered me £100. That was only for labour. I should get £7 a week, and I did not get £3 a week out of it. I had to go to a money-lender to borrow the £100, and pay him 20 per cent.
During the time you were at Bellevue, Mr Gandar asked you when you were going to pay? - He will have to wait, as I have.
Did you tell him you had unsold pictures - Yes, but they are all sold now. How much money did you get for them? - One picture I was painting I wanted £1000 for, and I only got £400 - not £3 a week, like a bricklayer.
Between times I painted 70 pictures and drawings. Continuing, he said he had many sketches in Sydney, but they were unfinished. They belonged to his son for services rendered.
Why did you tell Mr Gardar you had these pictures, and make false statements - When I wish to have these, pictures I can get them.
What income has your wife? - She has nearly, pretty well, nothing...
I know nothing about money matters. Art! art!
You owe Mr W. H. Field money, and you have given him a bill of sale over some of your pictures as security. Are these pictures worth more than you got? - My pictures are so valuable. They are worth thousands. You don't know me. I have a European reputation.
How many does the bill of sale cover? - I do not know. Dr. M'Arthur, S.M., said he could not make an order against debtor, Mr Toogood was about to make a statement on behalf of debtor, but his Worship said it was unnecessary.
Star, Issue 8943, 31 May 1907, Page 3

The other day, according to Mr. Wilford, some one thrust a walking-stick through a picture of the late Mr Seddon, in the Whip's room. Mr. P. Van der Velden, who painted the portrait, writes commenting strongly upon the "cowardly vandalism." "I have been many a time insulted during my eleven years' stay in Kew Zealand," he adds, "and this insult is supreme of all." He suggests that if the culprit is detected, he should first be whipped in the presence of the picture and then sent to prison to be flogged. He mentions that he was only waiting for a message from the Government to move the picture when the space, was required. He will soon be able to work again, finish the painting, and take it with him to London.
 Evening Post, Volume LXXIV, Issue 48, 24 August 1907, Page 4

Concerning Two Paintings.
An interpleader of summons issued by Australia Van Der Velden, wife of P. Van Der Velden, artist, in respect of two pictures seized by the bailiff under a distress warrant in the case Walter Gaudar v. P. Van Der Velden, was heard before Dr. M'Arthur, S.M. 

Claimant alleged that the pictures were hers, having been painted by her husband for her benefit to satisfy certain advances made by her to him from time to time. His Worship held that, the pictures belonged to the husband, and dismissed the interpleader claim with costs, £1 12s. Mr. Toogood appeared for Mrs. Van Der Velden, and Mr. Weston for the judgment creditor, Walter Gandar.
Dominion, Volume 1, Issue 107, 29 January 1908, Page 5

P. Van der Velden, the Dutch painter, has given to New Zealand some splendid work in the last 10 years. There is a large landscape in the Christchurch loan collection, a mountain torrent rushing between its enclosing cliffs — really great work, bold, and vigorous, and freely engaging the spirit of the scene. It almost makes the torrent audible. The canvas once held a splendid nude figure, for which Van der Velden asked £100. The highest offer he could get was £50. So he deliberately painted out the figure and painted the landscape in its place. More than once has the old man similarly shown his pride of art.
The Register (Adelaide, SA) Saturday 27 February 1909, page 12

Mr James Jamieson, president of the Canterbury Art Society, has generously presented the School of Art with a very fine pencil drawing of a reclining male figure by the well-known Dutch artist, P. Van der Velden. The work will be hung with the collection of drawings (purchased by the director when in Europe last year) in the main corridor of the School of Art, and will be on view during the school exhibition next week.
Press, Volume LXVI, Issue 13652, 9 February 1910, Page 6

Madame Melba does not share the views of those art critics who were so annoyed at the purchase of a picture by Mr. Van de Velden for the Wellington Art Gallery. Other distinguished, visitors who have come to Wellington, have taken away with them treasures of greenstone to display at Home as the rarest product of New Zealand, but the great singer is bearing with her in triumph a picture of the Dutch artist who settled here - a picture which she admired from the moment she first saw it.

Madame Melba, whose love of the fine arts is well known, paid a visit to the Christchurch Art Galley soon after her arrival in that city and, while carefully inspecting the pictures, her attention was arrested by a striking portrait of Mr. Van der Velden, painted by himself. She recognised at once that this was the work of a great artist. Without delay she made inquiries about the man and the picture and, as a result, purchased the portrait for 75 guineas. The picture is at present on exhibition at Mr. Butler's studio on Lambton Quay. Mr Van de Velden has many admirers in New Zealand, and they will all be pleased at this recognition of his talent by one who is familiar with the finest pictures in European galleries.

Dominion, Volume 2, Issue 499, 5 May 1909, Page 3

... The mayor [of Wellington]then declared the show open. Mr. Van der Velden, an artist well known in Australia, was represented by an empty frame. His picture was to have been entitled "Mother and Child." It was explained that the picture was not ready, and the artist's reason for the delay was the fractiousness of the baby model, "which would not keep still."
The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Tuesday 12 October 1909, page 6

Sketch Exhibition.
New Zealand Academy Of Fine Arts.
The New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts annual sketch exhibition was opened on Saturday afternoon.

Of the best of the sketches none are more interesting or of more value to students, than those of Van der Velden, whose uniformly good work should have an inspiring influence on artists. He is represented by a strongly painted sketch of a garden in Tinakori Road and some excellent studies in foliage. The same artist also has some illuminative black and white sketches of babies - something out of the Van der Velden way - quaint and charming, and a charcoal, or black crayon, nocturne of Wellington, introducing a clever light effect...

Dominion, Volume 3, Issue 823, 23 May 1910, Page 5

A New Picture.
Offered to Auckland Gallery.
The Auckland Art Gallery Committee yesterday discussed the desirability of acquiring Van der Velden's fine painting of a scene in the Otira Gorge, which was shown in Auckland some time ago at an Arts and Crafts Society exhibition.

While in Wellington recently the Mayor made an inspection of the canvas, and said the picture was regarded as Van der Velden's best effort. It would undoubtedly make a very fine addition to the New Zealand section of the Auckland Gallery but the price asked (£150) might be considered a little too much.

Mr. T. W. Leys said there was no doubt that the picture was a magnificent one. Mr. Bickerton of Christchurch, now in Auckland, had informed him that the canvas was an infinitely better one than that of the same subject which Christchurch had purchased from Van der Velden for £150.

The artist was recognised as probably the best in New Zealand to-day, and was induced to come out from Holland, where he had already established a reputation by Dr. Von Haast [Sir Johann Franz "Julius" von Haast died in Christchurch on 16 August 1887 over two years prior to Van der Velden's arrival in New Zealand]. Christchurch and Dunedin already possessed similar picture, by Van der Velden, but this was considered to be his best effort. The Arts Society, added Mr. Leys, still had £122 to draw out of the last Government grant, and if the Mayor saw Mr. Devore the society might be willing to share the cost of the picture. It was decided to recommend that the City Council make an offer of 120 guineas for the picture.

Auckland Star, Volume XLIV, Issue 213, 6 September 1913, Page 5

Art lovers in Melbourne will learn with regret the death of Mr Petrus van der Velden, the well known Dutch artist, which occurred at Auckland, New Zealand, on November 11, at the age of 79 years Mr van der Velden had achieved success in Europe, when in 1890 he decided to make his home in Now Zealand. His work is represented in all the principal New Zealand collections. His finest picture, "Disillusioned," was purchased for £400 for the Sydney Gallery, where it now hangs, while the Melbourne Gallery contains a portrait of himself, bought by Madame Melba while on a visit to Christchurch, and presented to the Melbourne Gallery trustees.

The Argus (Melbourne), Friday 21 November 1913, page 9

 The death of Petrus Van der Velden has removed from New Zealand our one resident painter of wide European repute, the only one that could by any stretch of imagination be called great. But while he lived Van der Velden was not made the most of. He was patronised by smirking nonentities, and regarded as somewhat of a freak; nor did he find it easy to sell his pictures. Now he is dead, and for a while New Zealand will still be remembered by many people in Europe as the place Petrus Van der Velden chose to live and die in.
Free Lance, Volume XIV, Issue 699, 22 November 1913, Page 4

The Mind of an Artist
Some Recollections of P. Van der Velden.  
(By C. E. Bevan-Brown, M.A.)  
[Charles Edmond Bevan-Brown (1854-1926) was headmaster of Christchurch Boys' High School for 35 years.]
(specially written for "The Press.")

I think it was in 1895 that for some months I was a constant visitor to Mr Van der Velden's studio in Durham street, Christchurch, for sittings. I look back on that time as the occasion in my experience when I got a real insight into an artist's life, an intimate appreciation of the atmosphere of such a life. When I had gone in and shut the door, I seemed in another world than prosaic Durham street. There was an air of peace, of unworldliness. I can almost recall the "aroma" of the studio, and the litter of canvases and paint boxes, and Van der Velden, pipe in mouth, slippers on feet, always working quietly, smiling cheerfully, in no hurry, wholly satisfied to spend all the daylight hours painting, finding his happiness in that, and seeming to need no exercise, no other amusement or company.

In our constant talks, for he loved to talk while working, partly to come into intimate touch with the sitter, I gathered from him details of his history, and some of his quaint outlook on the world. He had built up without the aid of books, for he had read scarcely anything, a philosophy of life for himself, in which he deeply believed.

It was in some respects strange and bizarre, but none the less very interesting, and containing elements of deep truth. At the end of our meetings I made some notes while the details were still fresh, and think they may be worth reproducing at this juncture when his memory is recalled to us by the exhibition of his paintings at the Art Gallery. I shall often quote his own words. The reader must understand that his knowledge of English was very imperfect, and he is often difficult to follow, but this makes the expression of his thought the more quaint.

His father was clearly not an attractive character. "I did not love my father," said he, "but I saw another boy welcoming his father home, and he taught me I must love my father; and I learnt to love him. He taught me not to go in his line — drink. From there years I had misery. I watched my mother." This early experience has left its record in his pictures. He learnt the New Testament at a Catholic school, and was very glad of it; he said it was the best book. "I have learnt the sayings, those expressions of the Christ, what they mean." He had lessons at the school of art, paid for by a friend, I think, and he won all the prizes. He was looked on as very promising, and was always drawing and I always wanted to be an artist; always had the conviction that he would be.

Till he was 22 he sang in a choir. One night he said, "Lord teach me to pray" — his first prayer; and he felt quite different, a new light seemed to come. But strangely enough he never said any more prayers, taking as his motto, "Laborare est orare [to work is to pray]." "I must do the will of my Father, I must do my duty." The family were so poor that the idea of his being an artist had to be abandoned, though he himself always clung to it, and believed he would be one day. He learnt lithography. When 24 he was partner with a friend; they had one or two workmen under them. But the workmen were better off than the masters, who could not make a living The prices were cut down by unscrupulous neighbours, who got their paper, and did not pay for it.

Message from the Stars.
"We worked," said he, "from 8 a.m. till after midnight. I got 5s a week, he 10s of the cash; our workmen got 30s. I was in despair; thought I was lost, and should never be an artist. One night I went out of the workshop and looked at the stars — so wonderful, one behind another, and my mind left me; you know how it is Mr B.; there is a little space between feeling and thought; it came to me, 'You shall be an artist!' and then I was quite sure. It was more than I could get from emperor, king, or any great man; it was a voice from above and supernatural. Was it not strange? Then I knew it came from the stars, from above, not from the earth at all; it was my Father, and I felt so sure; more sure than if the King of Holland had sent me a letter and said, 'Mr Van der Velden, I will give you money, and you shall he an artist, and I will pay all expenses.' But I wanted to prove it; so I thought I would say nothing to my friend, and work on just the same, and watch the circumstances. I knew it would come. Well, we went on six years. I used to draw when I had any time; but we had to work hard; we had no meat, and took our food is we stood, working till 2 a.m. sometimes all the 24 hours, and seven days in the week; and then we had to get more men and more presses. But one day when I was 30 years old, my friend came down to me from paying the men upstairs and leant against the table, with his hair so, and said 'We can't go on'; and then I saw it had come and I said, 'I will do no more bit of lithography: I will paint.' We agreed to close in three months. Then having no more paper to buy, we could take a little more cash; he, 15s. and I 10s: and the first Saturday he said. Come round to me to-morrow and my wife make some soup.' We were staring. We had the soup at 7. I tell you it tasted good.

He was married and I single. At the end of three months we paid up everything, and had £6 10s to divide, he became foreman in another place and got £2 10s a week, and I went off to paint.

A friend lent me a boat. I had no money for figure painting, so I took to marine. I went out on the harbour at Rotterdam with two pieces of bread, and drew all day, and I ate my bread, and at six o'clock felt queer. I was really hungry and wanted a good dinner, but I did not know it. I had been living such a hard life, I thought this was nothing; I should never be an artist if I stopped like this; so I drew my boat to shore - I was cramped — and drew on till 8 p.m."

Here let me interrupt Mr V. der V's narrative to say that in the exhibition of his sketches at the Art Gallery there will be found, I believe, some of these early studies of ships, and ropes, and anchors, and seamen. He showed them to me and very faithful and interesting they are. To continue.

"One night I came home; I had been working hard; I was happy; the outdoor life made me hungry, but I had only one piece of bread; but this I must divide and only eat one-half: the other was for the next day; I was very hungry: and I remember the tears came into my eyes; I thought a thief was better off than I; and I had done my duty; well, never mind. The first year was the hardest, and at the end I had done a picture; the harbour and the ships; well, it was not a picture, it was taken straight from nature the drawing was right, but I was not satisfy with the colour. Well, I sent it to the exhibition, and I know nothing of the best places, and how bad light may ruin a picture: and when I went to it was in the worst place in the worst room, and did not like it. I felt as if you might take me by the legs and put me on my head all upset. I went down to the park, the marsh. I felt quite lost again.

The Second Message.
"It was mid-day, and a great sun shining, and it was dancing on the water. And what do you think! My friend was there again! He spoke to me again. He said 'You are not lost; I am with you; you are safe,' and I was sure. I do not care for all the world; for what they say or do. I was sure. I am sure. I knew there was an eternal love watching over me and all men and things, and leading us on to know Him. And I went straight back to my studio and began to paint again. And a gentleman that knew me when a boy was sorry for my picture, and said I should send it to Antwerp, the Rotterdam Exhibition being over; and I should be like a bird from the sky; they would not know there who I was. So I sent it; and I got five guilders for a little sketch from a friend; and we went to see my picture at Antwerp; and what do you think! When I went in it was right before me in the salle d'honneur. Oh, I was happy. I went round all the museums and churches, and then home again; and the next day I got a letter from the secretary that an English, gentleman had bought my picture for 300 guilders (£25). Quite a fortune! So you see, Mr B., how it is; there is love everywhere; you could not be lost; no one could."

When he received the princely sum of £25 he was 30; his life had taken a turn, and he was able occasionally to sell a picture. At 37 he married a Dutch vrouw, who made him an excellent wife. The picture "The Domino Player" was purchased for the Amsterdam Gallery; but he was not satisfied with it. He knew he had to study light, atmosphere, to penetrate the secret of Rembrandt. He was always seeking "light." and one little unfinished sketch of the Crucifixion he showed me is a marvellous effect of light shining out of great darkness. So he worked five years more, and then produced what he regarded as his masterpiece, "The Blind 'Cello Player." "I had found out," said he, "how it was with the atmosphere." This was purchased for The Hague; they did not give him much money, expecting him to be satisfied with the honour. A photograph of this picture is in the Exhibition.

About this time he became the King of Holland's pensioner; no that he need never fear starvation any more. But still he did not get much money. He was not satisfied with the English and American dealers; he could not understand their language, and he could not wait for his price; and he would be true; he would not paint pot-boilers. He must do his duty. This characteristic, it may he remarked, continued with him to the end. He would never paint to sell. He would spend months, even years over a picture, and refuse to sell unless he got a fair price.

At this time, then, he thought he would go to an English country and learn the language. It so happened that Mr Van Asch, of Sumner, had bought a picture of his and used to write him, and send photographs of New Zealand. And so he came here. He was to stay six months with Mr Van Asch, to learn the language and English manners; but, said he, "I must not learn English manners."

And now I must say a word or two on Mr Van der Velden's philosophy. One of his cardinal principles was the value of "misery." "I love misery," he used to say. "People in New Zealand have too much of the good." He looked upon pain, sickness, misfortune, as a valuable medicine for the soul. Comfort, ease, prosperity, were dangerous. Looking back on his life, he blessed the times when he had suffered — for then he was nearest the light. He also, held the dangerous heresy that a good and evil, good men and evil men; beauty and ugliness, holiness and sin, all alike, came from God and were' equally to be admired. Just as he would admire the leaf of a tree, so he admired a thief or a murderer, as all interesting products. "I love a thief." he would say, and I remember twitting him because being nervous lest his unprotected studio should be broken into and a picture stolen, he kept watch-dogs. I asked him would he love a thief if he managed to evade the dogs. He also held that there was no such thing as responsibility (reponbility, he called it); all action being inevitable. But here he was strangely inconsistent. No maxims were more constantly on his lips than "you must do your duty, you must be true, you must love," and though he regarded sin as inevitable, being in this a necessarian, he represented God as standing over the evildoer, and saying "If you sin, I shall punish you, keep on punishing you, till you do your duty." Clearly implying that a man ought to do his duty, that he had a choice, and that punishment was just, and that goodness was admirable, and sin detestable, and a man responsible.

His great heroes were Socrates. Jesus Christ and Rembrandt. He had very curious interpretations of some of the sayings of Jesus. He disliked "Prohibimism," as he called it saying "you could not be a good man without a glass of wine."

He had quaint ideas on education, very attractive, but somewhat impracticable. His idea was that a boy should be allowed to run about in a garden while his father painted (unfortunately all fathers do not paint); presently perhaps, the boy would pull up a leaf and try to draw it, and his father would show where he was wrong, and encourage him to draw it perfectly and so he would learn accuracy and geometry, nature and science and beauty, gradually and unconsciously. It is another illustration of the way people are obsessed with the idea that their own particular subject (chemistry, geography, history, carpentry) should be the main basis of education. There is however, a charm about Van der Velden's simple proposal. He was at any rate quite right when he said that we must learn "to see." It was astonishing to him how "colour blind" people are; to be actually blind he said was not so bad as to be colour blind.

I think by colour blindness Van der Velden meant not merely inability to see colour and beauty of nature, but a blindness of the soul. The bodily eye was to him intimately connected with the eye of the soul. He says in some notes found after his death: "We must learn to see. When you don't see you are like a phonograph machine. You learn one thing or another, and talk like as if you knew, and you don't know because you cannot see. The eve of the human being is the mirror of the soul. I am told this is said by one of the great Greek men." Clearly Van der Velden had heard something of and accepted Plato's favourite doctrine.

Such is a slight sketch of this simple, original soul and true artist now gone to his rest. He had a constant sense of the presence of the spiritual. I remember his showing me the study of a sort of cave or disused quarry — in the Port Hills, near Sumner; not one would have thought a very attractive spot; but he studied it and loved it. "I came to love those rocks," he said: "the Holy Ghost was in that spot."
Press, Volume L, Issue 14895, 7 February 1914, Page 8

A Valuable Bequest
Pictures by Van der Velden
Through a bequest by the late Mr C. Y. Fell, [Charles Yates Fell] the Suter Art Gallery has become possessed of two pictures by the famous artist, Van der Velden, and these have now been hung in the gallery and may be inspected at any time the gallery is open to the public. As the information which follows discloses, the bequest is a valuable one, and is evidence of the attachment Mr Fell had for this institution, of which he was a trustee and one of the leading supporters. There are two oil paintings. The larger, a group of three, is a picture of power and fine technique which forms an outstanding feature in the gallery, immediately claiming attention of the visitor. The picture is entitled "The Storyteller," and depicts a seafaring man in his rough-weather garb telling his tale to a youth and a maiden. The artist has gone to his native land for this subject, but the central figure may be regarded as typical of a class which is well represented by the hardy trawlers of the North Sea. This picture was painted in 1896, and was purchased by Mr Fell in Christchurch from an art dealer. The smaller picture is the head of an old man with snowy beard and hair, and is entitled "Head of a 'Cellist." It was purchased in Christchurch from Van der Velden's son, who stated it to be one of the preliminary studies made by his father for a famous picture, probably that referred to by Mr Colley in his remarks which are reprinted below. At present this picture is hung in a poor position, and suffers thereby. It is without doubt the work of a master hand, but of the type that requires study to realise its full artistic value.

The appended article, reprinted from the "Dominion" of November 13th, 1913, gives information as to the high standing of the artist and enables a better idea to be formed of the value of the bequest:-
The death was reported yesterday from Auckland of Mynheer Petrus Van der Velden, probably the greatest artist who has ever made New Zealand his home. His life has been a curious one. He came to New Zealand many years ago - for what reason no one ever seemed to know - just at the time when his talent was beginning to be recognised in his native Holland, and for many years practically led the life of a recluse, occasionally turning out a picture, but never stooping to the art of the "pot boiler." His work was ripe with an almost faultless technique, full of strength and virility, and clean away from anything in the way of cheap effects. Van der Velden, though repeatedly urged to paint quick sellers, could not and would not consent to do so. To those who knew him he was a personality. His lines of thought lay beneath "the surface and the show," and yet he had a wit that was richly entertaining. He lived out of the times, and to a great extent within himself.

Mr. F. W. Colley, the English artist and picture restorer, voiced an appreciation of the artist (who, by the way, lived at Seatoun for some years) to a "Dominion" reporter in March last.

"Van der Velden is a great artist," said Mr Colley, "there is no doubt about that. Had he lived and moved in the right environment, the world would have been enriched in art, but, sad to say, he had had domestic troubles to handicap him, and what was most unfortunate, he had come to New Zealand and left that environment that would have fostered his genius just at a time when life was opening out for him - in the prime of his artistic life - and came to a country that was raw and green - to an atmosphere entirely removed from the soul-awakening influences of the old land, which are as meat and drink to the artistic mind. But even so, Van der Velden had turned out some very fine stuff, but neither in Australia nor New Zealand did they know how to value it. What should have been done, though it is too late now, was for the Government to have given him a decent living salary - he wanted and wants nothing more - to have lectured on art at the different art and technical schools and injected the correct idea of art into the students. If that had been done when Van der Velden came to New Zealand, New Zealand might have produced some good painters before this."

"I don't know whether you know it," continued Mr. Colley, "but Van der Velden made this offer in Christchurch, and in addition promised to paint three or four pictures a year, which alone would have brought more than his salary. But no, they didn't understand the man. Nearly every man of genius has his idiosyncrasies. Take Rembrandt, Murillo, and other great artists - take the great musicians. Van der Velden is the most modest man on earth. He does not want money - does not value money. All he cares about is that there be enough to fill the pot and keep it boiling. Other than that he says himself - "let me paint and don't worry me!" and given that, he would have been as happy as a king. But no, he had worries and troubles that he should never have been subjected to, and under these conditions he could not turn out the work his genius was capable of evolving. He was not given the chance to dream, and it is out of dreams that all great work, artistically, has been done."

"People do not know what Van der Velden was. He was a contemporary student in Holland with Josef Israels, Anton Mauve, and others, and was considered their equal, if not superior. Paintings by those artists bring thousands of pounds when at rare intervals they reach the market. On one occasion, when Israels was president of The Hague Gallery, and one of his own pictures had been given the place of honour on the line, Van der Velden sent in late his "Old Man and Cello."

As soon as Israels saw it, he ordered his own picture down, and gave its place to Van der Velden's. That picture still adorns the walls of The Hague Gallery - one of the highest honours an artist can enjoy. With it he won the King of Holland's scholarship and gold medal. Another great picture is his "Dutch Funeral," now in the possession of Mr. Van Asch, of Sumner, Christchurch. There is superb technique and a depth and sympathy in the picture which must at once compel the admiration of anyone who knows anything of art. The stuff you have in your gallery is the kind of art that is always obtainable, but there are few Van der Velden's in the world."

Colonist, Volume LXI, Issue 14923, 20 November 1918, Page 1 andColonist, Volume LXI, Issue 14900, 24 October 1918, Page 6

Mr William Bassett, of Avonside, who has left on a lengthy visit to tho British Isles, has loaned to the Canterbury Museum for five years five oil paintings and three black and whites, all by the late Petrus van der Velden.
The oils are:—
"Tho Orphans," "Moonlight, Port Chalmers," The Satara Player," "Scene in Otira Gorge," and "Winter in Holland." "The Orphans" and "The Satara Player" are particularly fine examples of van der Velden's figure work. The pictures have been hung in the statuary room, and will prove an additional attraction to those who visit the Museum. It is interesting to recall that about 1892 the artist made an offer to tho Board of Governors of Canterbury College to supervise the Life Class at the School of Art, one of the proposed conditions being that tho Board should have an option over any two of the works painted by van der Velden in each year. If the artist's offer had been accepted it is possible that the city would now possess a number of van der Velden's canvasses.
Press, Volume LVI, Issue 16746, 31 January 1920, Page 8

Petrus Van Der Velden
An exhibition of rare paintings, representative of the art of Petrus Van Der Velden, a Dutch artist of the last generation, is now on view at Messrs. Anthony Hordern and Sons' fine art gallery.

This artist was born at Rotterdam in 1835, and studied abroad on a three years' scholar- ship granted by King William of the Nether lands, in recognition of the young student's talents. In 1873 his picture, "Double Blank," was purchased for the Amsterdam National Gallery, and in 1878 his picture, " 'Cello Player," won the place of honour at The Hague International Exhibition, and was acquired for the City Gallery there. Subsequently his works found their way all over Europe, from Paris to Berlin and Petrograd. In 1898 Van Der Velden visited Sydney, and he spent, many years in New Zealand, where he died in 1913.

There are 17 oil and water colour pictures, and some drawings in the collection at the Hordern Gallery, and they are said to form the only remaining records of this distinguished painter's work. They belong to the Dutch school at The Hague, to which Israel, Mauve, Mesdag, Jacob, and other artists of that group belonged about 40 years ago. A fine example is "Old Jack," a study of a veteran salt with a shrewd expression on his lined features: "The Card Players," showing the Interior of a village inn, will be admired; "Wedding, Village of Marken" (where the painter lived for many years) is especially vivid in its touches of character; and "The Fisherman at Home" in low rich brown tones, relieved by high lights, is an especially skilful piece of work. The pencil sketches of figures are good, the hands being drawn with unusual care and delicacy. This interesting collection was visited by the trustees of the National Art Gallery yesterday.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Tuesday 12 December 1922. Page 7

Memories of Van der Velden.
Akaroa resident's Recollections.

The original of one of Petrus van der Velden's best-known paintings, "Sante" and the model who sat several times for alterations to "Disillusement," another of the Dutch artist's most famour (sic) works, is Mrs C. Innes, who is now living at William Street, Akaroa. She has sent some of her recollections to the "Sun" stating that she had been prompted to do so by the most interesting article on the life of van der Velden, which had appeared in that paper.

Mrs Innes was the daughter of H. Sorenson of Christchurch; and states that her earliest recollection of the van der Velden family was while they were living, in Avonside, behind the old Cowlishaw homestead. The van der Velden children attended the Richmond School, where she was also a pupil. Being herself of Northern blood (Danish), they were very soon firm friends and remained so during the many years that the family was in Christchurch. In later years they corresponded.

Mrs Van der Velden was a most charming woman; and so keen was her desire to improve her English that she studied Shakespeare.

Mrs Innes, who was then 16 years' of age, he came a constant visitor to the studio. On one occasion she noticed the old artist watching her meditatively; then he asked permission to paint her. Whereupon, she was installed in the studio every day for six weeks — six most interesting and delightful weeks. The elder van der Velden boy,  William, read humorous tales out aloud to keep her laughing when necessary.

She was draped in beautiful old velvet and exquisite old Flemish lace; and at the end of each sitting some good old Dutch cider was put in her goblet to drink.

From Avonside, the van der Velden family went to a house at the corner of Conference and Durham Streets. From there, they moved to Sumner for a short while, pending their departure for Sydney, where Mrs van der Velden died on May 2, 1899. 

 Van der Velden's house at the corner of Conference and Durham Streets, Christchurch. Sunday 7 October 2012

On one occasion the Dutch artist gave Mrs Innes a brush and told her to paint in a jar which he had drawn, "So," was his only comment when she had completed it, but on his next visit to her home he demanded of her mother, in his usual blunt way "Wherefore, you not let Ethel be an artist? Art is light, light is love, love is God. All is art."

Van der Velden said that his name meant "of the green fields." "Van" and "der' were unemphasised, emphasis being on "Velden" alone, the only capitalised word.

A motto of van der Velden's, which he wrote in Mrs Innes's book was (translated from the Dutch) "The early bird has the worm in it's mouth." Unfortunately, it was not I always so with him.

Mrs Innes says that she has lost trace of Rika, one of the van der Velden girls; but Geert (it was so spelled), one of the boys, became later a consul for Holland. William took up photography and some years ago he travelled through New Zealand lecturing to doctors on X-ray photography.

The original painting of "Sante" is, according to Mrs Innes, in the possession of Mrs G. Simpson, Christchurch, while Mrs George March, Loburn, has the original blocking.

Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LVI, Issue 5898, 8 June 1934, Page 3

VAN DER VELDEN.- November 20 (suddenly). Gerrit, second son of the late Petrus van der Velden.
The Sydney Morning Herald 27 November 1943 page 18

VAN DER VELDEN. Willem.- June 23 at a nursing home, elder son of the late Petrus van der Velden. Privately cremated.
The Sydney Morning Herald 25 June 1954 page 22

(Willem van der Velden was a photographer)
The Sydney Morning Herald Monday 19 July 1954, page 10

Sophia Wilhelmina (nee Eckhart) van der Velden died 2 May 1899 at Sydney
(she was the sister of the sculptor David Eckhart)

(1) Van der Velden - T. L. Rodney Wilson
(2) Wellington City Council - Online data base. 
(3) Sydney Morning Herald 23 January 1934 page 8
(4) Evening Post, Volume LXXXVIII, Issue 123, 20 November 1914, Page 2
(5) The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 May 1898 page 8

1 comment:

  1. I recall viewing his work in the ChCh Art Gallery years ago and being absolutely stunned by the quality of his Dutch works. Masterpieces!
    R.I.P Mynherr Van der Velden ..... like others who called early NZ, "home", you arrived ahead of your time.