BARRAUD, Charles Decimus
Artist and chemist.
A new biography of Barraud, Charles Decimus appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Born in Surrey, England, in 1822, Charles Barraud was educated at Camberwell and after serving his apprenticeship to a chemist and druggist in Southampton, spent some time in that business. In 1849, at Southampton, Barraud married Sarah Maria Style, by whom he had five sons and two daughters. Shortly after his marriage, in the same year, he and his wife emigrated to New Zealand on board the Pilgrim. Arriving in Wellington, he was in business as a chemist in Lambton Quay till 1887, when the misfortune of having his premises burned down caused him to retire. He was the first president of the New Zealand Pharmacy Board, and in philanthropic matters he took a real interest, being treasurer of the Convalescent Fund of Wellington Hospital for several years, and chairman of the Sailors' Rest from 1892.
From his youth Barraud had displayed artistic talent, and for the first 26 years of his life in New Zealand he travelled widely in his spare time over a large area of the North and South Islands, sketching in the various provinces, and recording his impressions of the attractions of New Zealand. Many of these sketches he worked up to a larger scale, and the climax of this activity came in 1875 when he decided to sail to England to take advice on the publication of his work. This was published in 1877 under the title New Zealand, Graphic and Descriptive, his publishers being Samson, Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, the lithographer being C. F. Kell, while the descriptive material was edited by W. T. L. Travers. The book contained 24 full-page colour lithographs of landscapes and numerous other plain lithographs and woodcuts dealing with aspects of native life in New Zealand. Several of the lithographs are of considerable historic interest, particularly that portraying the Pink and White Terraces which were destroyed in the Tarawera eruption . The painting from which the lithograph was made is in the Alexander Turnbull Library Collection, Wellington. From an artistic point of view, his “Otira Gorge”, “West Coast Road”, and “Orakei Korako” are outstanding, the composition being sounder than in much of his work. Barraud was a warm supporter and founder member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts and became its first president, holding that office until his death. He had also been a member of the Otago Art Society from 1876. During his life he devoted much of his time to assisting and encouraging younger artists.
Barraud died on 26 December 1897. Two sons had artistic talent. E. Noel Barraud was a painter in watercolour and a member of the first Council of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Art. He died in England in 1920. The other son, W. F. Barraud (1850–1926), specialised in etching.
C. D. Barraud painted mainly in watercolour, but also did a few oils. He attempted some portraits of notable Maori chiefs, but as paintings they were much inferior to his landscapes. He belongs to the same period as John Gully but is not of the same talent. Barraud's work is inclined to be laboured and lacks subtlety of colour. Only occasionally does he rise above the detail that preoccupies his attention. He favoured late afternoon or approaching sunset effects. His real importance lies in the record he left of early New Zealand scenes and he must therefore be regarded primarily as a topographical artist. His original works are to be found in several New Zealand Galleries and libraries.
- New Zealand Times and Evening Post, 28 Dec 1897 (Obit)
- Wellington Independent, 28 Jan, 18 Mar 1865.