'Sad Memories' Ngaheke (1916) First C F Goldie (1870-1947) auctioned in New Zealand 2021
We are delighted to present the first major C F Goldie to be publicly offered at auction in New
Zealand this year. Sad Memories Ngaheke (An Arawa Cheiftainess) which was auctioned 21st April, Dunbar Sloane Ltd, Wellington.
Realised $370,000 plus premium
Within the context of New Zealand’s art history Goldie’s portraits have been both celebrated and condemned in equal measure. The averted gaze, the downcast eyes have become the leitmotif of Goldie’s visual message, collectively nurturing and supporting the attitude prevailing at the time this work was painted – that Maori was a dying race. The demeanour of Arawa Chieftainess Ngaheke in her portrait displays several of these characteristics. However there are certain other notable features which make the work unique amongst the other Goldie portraits of this period. It is very much purely head and shoulders format on a small sized canvas, perhaps painted from a photograph at therequest of another member of her whanau. Personal adornment such as greenstone earrings, hei tikis or cloaks are notably absent. This portrait emphasises the emotions and thoughts which Ngaheke might be experiencing. The hand supporting the head, a traditional sign of melancholy, conveys an attitude of resignation which reinforces the overall portrayal of her despondency. Culturally the downcast eyes or averted gaze could also be shielding her wairua/spirit from the intrusion ofimagery of any kind. The muted coolness of the green background almost merges with the pattern of the familiar checked blanket over Ngaheke’s shoulders so that her face and head are broughtforward and fill the canvas more significantly. Conscious of the nineteenth century history of Maori/ European contact with its wars, land sales and confiscations and her own more immediate personal loss this particular portrait of Chieftainess Ngaheke transcends ethnic or sociological considerations. The Goldie ‘formula’ combined with his meticulous technique greatly benefits from the limited size of the canvas to convey in simple and direct terms a very human study of sadness.
Lot 30: C F Goldie (1870-1947) Sad Memories Ngaheke oil on canvas Est $400,000 - 500,000