King Tawhiao (Waikato)

Clas Edvard Fristrom
Production date
This painting of King Tawhiao (Tukaroto Matutaera Potatau Te Wherowhero Tawhiao) is based on a photograph taken by the celebrated educationalist and photographer Josiah Martin in 1880. By the time this portrait was painted, Tawhiao had already been deceased for more than fifteen years, which is the reason for Edward Fristrom’s use of a photograph as the source for his subject. More inclined to landscape painting which suited the immediacy of the en plein air techniques he employed, this portrait was somewhat of a departure for the artist.

Edward Fristrom (Claus Edvard Friström) (1864-1950) was born in Torhamn, near Karlskrona in southern Sweden. In 1903 Fristrom made the move to New Zealand with his family following a number of years in Brisbane, Australia. Fristrom and his older brother Oscar were also advocates of photographic technologies and established a studio while in Brisbane, which his brother continued after his departure.

A self taught artist, Fristrom had a preference for painting en plein air (in the open air), a technique favoured by the French impressionists. This style of painting which was also used by fellow emigrant painters James Nairn and Girolamo Nerli, was still considered avant garde in the conservative British colony of New Zealand. An avid traveller he was rarely home for long, making extensive trips throughout New Zealand, Australia and abroad.

From 1911–1915 Fristrom was a lecturer at Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland. Following a failed attempt to increase his salary, Fristrom tendered his resignation and moved his family to the United States where he was to remain until his death in a small Californian settlement called Camel-by-the-Sea.
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Object detail

Production date
Oil on canvas
474 x 416 x 50mm (framed whole)
298 x 240mm (image)
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Credit line
Trust Waikato Art and Taonga Collection
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