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Christchurch City Council Media Release 25 February 1999

Forgotten Canterbury Landscape Artist Rediscovered

Edwyn Temple: Artist


Robert McDougall Art Gallery. 15 April–13 June 1999

"Captain Edwyn Temple is a Canterbury artist buried by history…" Until more recently, … "the life and art of Edwyn Temple remained a closed book. The book is now about to reopen" (Moore, The Press, 1996).

After months of research and exploration, Neil Roberts, Senior Curator at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery has put together an exhibition of works by Canterbury artist and founding member of the Canterbury Society of the Arts, Captain Edwyn Temple (1835-1920).

Temple was born in Hampshire, England in 1835, the second son of Lieutenant Colonel John Temple and Jane Dorothea Marshall. He received private tuition in Italy in 1852 and as a young man it was obvious that he had inherited an artistic talent from his family.

As was the traditional for men in his family, he joined the military in 1853, serving in the Crimean War (1855/56) and India (1864-1866). During this period, when time permitted, he painted watercolours, and sketched. It was, however, following his migration to New Zealand in 1879 with his wife and family that Temple spent more time on his painting.

The Temples settled in Christchurch but in 1882 moved to Geraldine in South Canterbury where Edwyn farmed until 1909. He spent his last years in Timaru.

Between 1880 and 1892, which was the most active period of his work as an artist in New Zealand, he made many trips over the South Island from which inspiration for many of his paintings came. Works from these trips were exhibited at either the Canterbury Society of Arts or Otago Art Society annual exhibitions.


"Temple was clearly an artist of considerable ability but what made him stand out was that he was also an artist of considerable imagination. His art has left us with a colourful record of colonial life and work during the last half of the 19th century." (Neil Roberts, Curator)

His sketchbooks include many studies that captured a wide range of subjects. Temple’s humour is apparent in the detailed caricatures of friends and family. In 1892 and 1909 he returned to England. On each trip he painted during the voyage and in in each port of call. In England, much time was spent in the Lake District painting scenes familiar from his youth.

Temple’s artistic reputation did not go unnoticed by his New Zealand contemporaries. He was a founder member of the Canterbury Society of the Arts and exhibited regularly between 1880 and 1894. He also exhibited in Melbourne in 1880 and London in 1886 at International Exhibitions.

Neil Roberts describes Temple as standing out as an enthusiatic, accomplished artist deserving of a higher place among his contemporaries than has been recognised to date. "He may never become a major figure in 19th Century New Zealand art, but he remains one of the most interesting artists of that period."


Curator’s Floortalk. 11am, Sunday, 18 April

The Curator of this exhibition and the McDougall’s Senior Curator, Neil Roberts,will present a floortalk on ‘Edwyn Temple – Artist.’

The Robert McDougall Art Gallery, located in the Botanic Gardens, is the country’s most visited public art gallery featuring regularly changing exhibitions of international and New Zealand historical and contemporary art. The McDougall Art Annex is the Gallery’s contemporary space located in the Arts Centre and features changing displays of contemporary art. Both the Gallery and Art Annex are open daily (except Christmas Day) 10am – 4.30pm.

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