Christopher Aubrey painting uncovered in north Taranaki thanks to Puke Ariki exhibition

Siblings Jono and Emma O'Sullivan discovered they had exhibited this Christopher Aubrey piece in Tongaporutu.

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Siblings Jono and Emma O’Sullivan discovered they had exhibited this Christopher Aubrey piece in Tongaporutu.

An exhibition in New Plymouth of works by a 19th-century watercolor painter resulted in one of his paintings being found in the tiny settlement of Tongaporutu, north of Taranaki.

Although it was known that Christopher Aubrey was in Taranaki in 1896, he finally disappeared from New Zealand without a trace.

Nine of his works are shown together for the first time in the Lane Gallery by Puke Ariki in an exhibition called 1896: Christopher Aubreys Taranaki.

After hearing about the exhibition, Emma O’Sullivan discovered that she had one of Aubrey’s works.

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The painting depicting the 1896 Tongaporutu Ferry House was on display in the grounds of the old guest house founded by O’Sullivan’s great-grandfather James McKoy and his wife Mary Jane.

Puke Ariki Image Curator Chanelle Carrick was pleased to hear from O’Sullivan.

The Aubrey painting was lucky enough to survive a fire that destroyed the original ferry house in 1937, she said.

Puke Ariki image curator Chanelle Carrick hoped more people would come forward with Aubrey paintings.

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Puke Ariki image curator Chanelle Carrick hoped more people would come forward with Aubrey paintings.

“For some reason it was taken out of the house and given to a family down the street for safekeeping. We’re not entirely sure why that happened, but we’re very grateful for it. “

The painting was retouched and re-framed in New Plymouth.

“The two characters he used are almost identical in the painting we have of him in Inglewood,” said Carrick.

She remains hopeful that other people will come forward with knowledge of other Aubrey paintings.

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