Skip to main content

Māori portraits deliver record-breaking exhibition for Berlin

A presentation of 48 historical Māori portraits by the late 19th-century painter Gottfried Lindauer and associated photographs is being widely acclaimed in Berlin, Germany. The presentation, Gottfried Lindauer: The Māori Portraits at the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) is from the collections of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

‘The Lindauer portraits are the absolute highlight of all exhibitions in Berlin’, says Nationalgalerie (National Gallery) curator Britta Schmitz. ‘We often have up to 2000 visitors per day to the exhibition and, altogether, have had almost 65,000 visitors since mid-November. This appears to be record-breaking.’

The exhibition of portraits has attracted a diverse audience of all ages. German visitors are not only interested in Lindauer’s artworks, but in Māori history, arts and culture and are especially intrigued to learn more about the relevance of the paintings for Māori today.

‘As taonga, these paintings have priceless cultural value for New Zealand and even more significance for the descendants of the subjects,’ says Auckland Art Gallery Director, Rhana Devenport. ‘The tremendous success of the exhibition in Berlin is testament equally to the artistic insight of Lindauer and to New Zealand’s extraordinary rich and varied history. This success demonstrates a passionate appreciation and fascination with Aotearoa, its people and culture.’

Last year Auckland Art Gallery announced its plans to tour, for the first time, the 48 Māori portraits to exhibitions in Berlin, Germany and Pilsen, Czech Republic. The exhibitions mark the first departure of these works from New Zealand’s shores since they were painted over 100 years ago. Devenport says the Lindauer paintings are among the most loved and admired works in the Gallery’s collection with local and international visitors gravitating to the space permanently dedicated to showing Māori portraits.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki holds a total of 63 Lindauer portraits in the Partridge Collection. Forty-four of the Gallery’s portraits are being presented in Berlin along with four portraits from Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa’s collection.

The Nationalgalerie (National Gallery), part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin), is presenting the exhibition focused on Lindauer’s portraits at the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) until Sunday 12 April 2015. The portraits will then travel on from Berlin to Lindauer’s birthplace of Pilsen in the Czech Republic, the European Capital of Culture 2015, for another exhibition from May until July at the Západočeská galerie v Plzni (Gallery of West Bohemia in Pilsen).

About Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki:

About the Nationalgalerie:
Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie,
Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin)

About the Gallery of West Bohemia in Pilsen:

About Gottfried Lindauer (1839 – 1926)
Gottfried Lindauer was born in Pilsen, Bohemia, trained at the Academy Fine Arts in Vienna and emigrated to New Zealand in 1873. He became renowned for his portraits of Māori and depictions of Māori life at a time when it was incorrectly thought Māori were dying out. Lindauer travelled extensively around New Zealand, notably Auckland, Nelson, Christchurch and Napier. He returned to Britain for an exhibition in London in 1886 but settled down at Woodville, north of Wellington, where he died in 1926.

For more information about Gottfried Lindauer and his paintings, visit

See also the Behind the Brush television series, which aired on Māori Television, and tells the stories of the Māori painted by Lindauer – view the series online.

About the Partridge Collection
The Lindauer paintings were donated to Auckland Art Gallery in 1915 by Auckland businessman Henry Partridge on the proviso that the people of Auckland raise 10,000 for the Belgian refugee relief fund. The money was raised and the paintings became known as the Partridge Collection. The Partridge Collection comprises 70 paintings of which there are 62 portraits and eight paintings depicting scenes from Māori life at the time.

Updated on 23rd July 2015