Alfred Sharpe painter

Although #AlfredSharpe was born in Tranmere, Cheshire, England he became one of New Zealand’s most important artists. His father, a well to do Liverpool merchant, was an art lover and collector. Alfred studied at the Birkenhead School of Art. A short two year stay in Ireland (after graduating) was followed by emigration to #NewZealand in 1859. Alfred, eventually, found himself living and working in Auckland. He was very much a self-promoter but did exhibit with the Auckland Society of Arts. He was denied the professional recognition he desired due to his critics calling his watercolours ‘painfully elaborate’.

Although Sharpe thought of himself as a professional artist, his works were created in what little time was left after a full time job as an architectural draftsman and part-time teaching post. By the late 1870’s Sharpe had wed, sired two children, and become profoundly deaf.

Sharpe was a devotee of local landscape painting. He stated ‘New Zealand scenery is special and unique,and, therefore it is altogether inexcusable to take liberties with it on the pretence of improvement … strive to reproduce Nature here as she is, ere her originality disappears before the combined effects of advancing civilisation and imported vermin and vegetation.’ The painting, in my collection, is entitled #MilfordSound . It’s size is roughly 6 1/2″ by 10 3/4″ (163mm x 275mm). It shows Alfred’s very definitive brush technique and his wonderful use of layered washes. His monogram appears lower left but is undated. Title appears on a label verso. Although he was a successful artist none of his works were owned publicly till well into the 20th century. He is now appreciated (deservedly so) for being at the vanguard of New Zealand art during it’s colonisation.

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