A Taranaki painting valued at up to $120,000 will be up for auction in Auckland later this month.
The prestigious work has come from a private Taranaki collection and was painted by Englishman Edwin Harris in 1860.
Harris arrived in New Plymouth with his family in 1841 on board the William Bryan, the first of the Plymouth Company ships to arrive in Taranaki.
The oil on canvas titled New Plymouth Under Siege depicts the events that took place at the beginning of the first Taranaki war and the arrival of British troops from the 40th regiment on August 3, 1860.
International Art Centre director Richard Thomson said he believed the work had not left Taranaki since its creation and hoped it would be bought and returned to the province where he felt it belonged.
"The last time a work by this artist was offered in 2008 it was purchased by the TSB Bank for $75,000," he said.
"This is an equally, if not more, important work as the condition is excellent and is executed in oil, whereas the previous work required restoration and was watercolour."
TSB Bank chief executive Kevin Murphy said the Harris painting it bought in 2008 had been extremely popular but did not disclose whether it intended buying another.
"We are aware that it's for sale but we haven't made any decisions to purchase it yet," he said.
Mr Thomson said the art centre had estimated the painting to be worth between $80,000 and $120,000 and understood it was the only oil painting by Harris for sale.
Although the art centre said Harris' works were rarely on the market, Puke Ariki manager of heritage collections, Kelvin Day, said it already housed two of Harris' paintings - one similar to that bought by the TSB Bank and a watercolour version of the oil painting for sale. The Alexander Turnbull library in Wellington also has the watercolour version in its collection.
Mr Day said he was not necessarily convinced an oil painting deserved more credit and would not raise his paddle in a hurry to purchase the work.
"Personally I prefer a watercolour. It's not a one-off as such. There are already three versions of the painting, it's just that one is in a different medium. "However, it is an important work and it is a nice work."
Mr Day said as far as Puke Ariki was concerned, it would not be purchasing the painting for the asking price.
The auction, titled Important, Early & Rare New Zealand Art, will be held at the International Art Centre in Parnell on Thursday, March 29.
Taranaki Daily News 8 March 2012