Spectacular Binney Masterpiece Emerges Tue, 17 Sep 2019
An Article published 12 September http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1909/S00176/spectacular-binney-masterpiece-emerges.htm
A spectacular and highly acclaimed oil painting of the bird which Maori legend says inspired Maori to migrate to New Zealand, is expected to bring a record price at an auction in Auckland next month.
Don Binney painted Pipiwharauroa over Te Henga, an oil on canvas of a shining cuckoo over Bethells Beach in 1974 and the paining will be one of the highlights at a sale of Important and Rare Art at the International Art Centre in Parnell, Auckland, next month.
International Art Centre director Richard Thomson said the signed and dated painting was a recently "rediscovered masterpiece.
"It is one of Binney's finest and is hugely significant in New Zealand's art and cultural history.
Binney has captured the shining cuckoo soaring over Bethells Beach on the west coast of the North Island against a background of brown and green fields and a flowering pohutukawa tree.
"Binney believed the appearance of the bird signalled the start of spring and he often said how he never lost touch with the joy of the bird's song," Mr Thomson said. "He believed spring represented hope, newness in life and nature and that feeling is perfectly aligned to the glorious, soaring beauty of the shining cuckoo in the foreground of this painting.
"Because it has all the hallmarks and elements of a Binney masterpiece, the condition, the subject, its size and the mere fact we were not aware of its presence, and its overall significance in the art world, it's difficult to predict what it may bring but we believe it could sell in excess of $500,000, possibly up to $700,000. Regardless, it's likely to set a record for a Binney painting at auction as works of this quality are extremely rare in the marketplace.
"Pipiwharauroa over Te Henga is one of his most important works. It's of superb quality, large scale, and is in pristine condition, and that makes it the most significant Binney ever offered at auction," Mr Thomson said. "In terms of his artistic ability, and his contribution to New Zealand art, Binney would have to rate alongside our artistic greats such as Charles Goldie and Colin McCahon."
The painting is privately owned and this is the first time it has been seen publicly for several decades.
Te Henga, the Maori name for Bethells Beach, was one of Binney's favourite spots, and features in many of his works. It was named after the henga, or upturned form of the waka (canoe) which resembles the contours of the coast when looking from sea.
Binney, who died aged 72 in 2012, is considered New Zealand's unsurpassed artist-ornithologist and his art conveyed strong messages of conservation and environmentalism. He completed several paintings of Pipiwharauroa (shining cuckoo) and Maori legend suggests the bird's migratory flight may have inspired the journey of Maori to New Zealand.