A few weeks back Number 8 Network climbed Taupiri Mountain but sadly cloud obscured any views.
Gordonton’s local historian Alan Sharp captured some good images from Taupiri Mountain back in 2007 and sent some in:
“For me what was extremely interesting, was comparing the views I was seeing with those of Alfred Sharpe 131 years before, as expressed in his painting, just as the railway line south was being pushed through.”
In its day, the Mangawara and Waikato Rivers’ delta was a hive of commerce, with two big sawmills operating there, supplied by logs that were floated to them, he said.
Alfred Sharpe (no relation to Alan) was born in Cheshire, the son of a merchant. He arrived ‘in the colonies’ in 1857 where he was ‘for twelve years the owner and cultivator of a Northern farm’. writes Roger Blackley in Art New Zealand.
Over the next sixteen years he painted and exhibited works which we now recognise as among the best of nineteenth century landscape productions in this part of the world. Adverse criticism was inevitable: ‘… painfully elaborate. .. in future eschew such photographic details as are seen in the foreground. . .’ (New Zealand Herald, 1877). But Sharpe possessed conviction, a belief in his singularly lucid vision, and he defended himself with confidence. Despite the critical detraction (remarkably similar, we may note, to that received by George O’Brien), his work enjoyed popular support. Two days after the 1877 exhibition opened, four of his seven paintings had been sold. In 1879 Sharpe remarked with pleasure on the sale of his pictures: ‘which shows that the public does not endorse the criticism’.
In 1887, he went to live in the coal-mining port of Newcastle, New South Wales. At this time he also dropped the final ‘e’ on the family surname.
As to Alfred Sharpe’s fate. . . a complete question mark. No death record for him exists in Australia.
For more on Alfred Sharpe, click here. Thank you Alan Sharp!