LINDAUER, Gottfried or Bohumir
A new biography of Lindauer, Gottfried appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Gottfried Lindauer was born on 5 January 1839 at Pilsen, Bohemia (now in Czechoslovakia), in the Austrian Empire. He was the son of Ignatz Lindauer, a nurseryman, and Mary, née Smith. His paternal uncle was Bishop of Budweis. For three years following his thirteenth birthday, young Lindauer was apprenticed in his father's nurseries and, while there, made many drawings and paintings of flowers. By the time his apprenticeship was completed he had decided to become an artist, and in 1855 walked the 200 miles from Pilsen to enrol at the Vienna Academy of Arts. Lindauer remained at the Academy for the next seven years, studying portrait painting under Professors Fuerich and Kuppleweisser. In 1861 one of his professors arranged for him to join Hemerlein, who was then one of the best known Viennese painters of religious subjects. Hemerlein secured him a commission to paint religious motifs for the Church of SS. Cyril and Method at Valasske Klobouky, a small town in Moravia. Afterwards he returned to Pilsen where he set up his own studio. His work here was interrupted by the necessity to undergo military training; however, as the young artist showed no aptitude for soldiering, his commanding officer commissioned a portrait of his wife. Other officers followed suit and, before long, he obtained commissions to paint portraits of many of the local notables.
Lindauer spent the next few years in Poland, giving private tuition in painting to the daughters of a Polish nobleman, and in Russia, where he painted Biblical subjects for a number of Catholic Cathedrals. Early in 1873 he was again called for military service; but, having been influenced by the Czech nationalism of his day, he obtained a year's deferment and fled the country. From Hamburg, he took passage in the Reichstag and landed in Nelson in August 1873.
Lindauer spent the next three years in the South Island. In 1876 he moved to Auckland, where he painted his first Maori portrait – that of Moses, a Maori peach hawker. In 1877 he held an exhibition in Wellington which drew much interest and led to many prominent Maori chiefs commissioning their portraits. Towards the end of the year he visited Thames, where he conceived the idea of painting a Maori scene to send to his native country. This picture – Woman and Child – attracted Sir Walter Buller's attention and led, eventually, to Buller's commissioning 20 Lindauer pictures for the London Intercolonial Exhibition in 1885. One of these, Poi Girl, was presented to the Prince of Wales.
In 1889 Lindauer took up a section in Pinfold Road, Woodville, Hawke's Bay, where he lived, with the exception of two brief visits to Europe, until his death. At Woodville he continued to paint portraits for people who came to him from all parts of New Zealand. It was here he completed the 70 Maori pictures for the H. E. Partridge Collection, Auckland. He continued to paint until eight years before his death. Lindauer died at Woodville on 13 June 1926.
Lindauer was twice married; first, in 1879, at Melbourne, Victoria, to Emelia Wipper, of Danzig, Germany (died in Christchurch on 24 February 1880); and, secondly, on 15 September 1885, at Napier, New Zealand, to Rebecca Petty, of Bishop Stortford, England. He had two sons by his second marriage.
Some confusion arises from Lindauer's mode of signing his pictures. Those painted in Europe are signed “B. Lindaur” or “B. Lindauer” – the “B.” standing for his Czech Christian name “Bohumir”, while the spelling of Lindauer was apparently optional. His pictures painted in New Zealand are signed “G. Lindauer” – the “G.” standing for his German name “Gottfried”, and the surname being spelt with an “e”.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
Lindauer was an accomplished and meticulous draughtsman and his paintings present a faithful ethnological record. In depicting Maori garments, ornaments, and weapons, Lindauer has not been surpassed. His rendering of Maori features and moko (tattooing) are highly valued by ethnologists. He never permitted imagination to replace authenticity in recording the customs and the way of life of the Maori people of his day. As a result, his work lacks the romantic appeal of later artists, like C. F. Goldie or H. Linley Richardson, who searched out the fast-disappearing picturesque types, the relics of those “bygone” days already recorded by Lindauer.
Lindauer's paintings are valuable because either he was endowed with little inventive facility or he suppressed this quality in his paintings of the Maori. His compositions are obvious and even trite, and his colour is truthful but never adventurous. He was a recorder with a fastidious eye for the factual. With ample technical skill to achieve his purpose, he could paint a replica or a number of replicas almost indistinguishable from the original painting from life. Partridge presented his collection of about 80 Lindauers to the citizens of Auckland during the First World War on condition that the city raised £10,000 for the Belgian Relief Fund. In a few weeks this amount was oversubscribed. The Partridge Collection is now housed in the Auckland City Art Gallery. There are also a number of fine Lindauers in the New Plymouth and in the Wanganui Museums.
by Stewart Bell Maclennan, A.R.C.A.(LOND.), Director, National Art Gallery, Wellington.
Essay to the Painting of Bohumir Lindauer Discovered at Valašské Klobouky and Vizovice in Moravia in Czechoslovakia, Subert, F. (1961); Woodville Examiner, 18 Jun 1926 (Obit).