Petrus van der Velden

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About Petrus van der Velden

Born in Rotterdam, Petrus Van der Velden was the son of warehouse foreman and porter. At twelve years of age he was sent to work but, due to his recognised drawing ability he was sent to a Drawing Master and then to Drawing Academy. He was then apprenticed to a lithographer, and he eventually became a partner in a lithographic firm.

From 1864 he turned seriously to painting and studied at the Drawing Academy, then went to Berlin on a scholarship. He married in 1876.

Van Gogh met him in 1883 and was impressed. Though he seemed well established as a Dutch painter, he left Holland in 1890. He took his family to New Zealand via Sydney, arriving possibly in Auckland (Kennett Watkins, painter, refers to coming across him there) but settling in Christchurch, sponsored by Gerrit Van Asch, already an established Christchurch resident.

In 1891 he visited Otira and the landscape there became the ?motif? for a great series of paintings. He paid visits to Dunedin c. 1892 and 1895. In 1894 started a life class but in 1898 left for Sydney on the Monowai via Wellington.

Exhibited with the Art Society of NSW, a painting was bought for the NSW Art Gallery, but still he had financial difficulty. His wife died in 1899. In 1905 he returned to New Zealand, settled in Wellington, married an Australian. In 1907 he visited Christchurch, then in 1913 Auckland, where he became ill and died on 11 November.

Work included Centennial Ex Wtn 1940. Represented by a large collection in McDougall; in major New Zealand galleries, Turnbull and Hocken; the Art Gallery of NSW and in the Dienst voor?s Rijks Verspreide Kunstvoorwepen, The Hague.