MAORI ART Collection of drawings, and illustrated letters from Major General Horatio Gordon Robley to book collector George Calvert,  [no place or date but possibly c.1919-1920]
Lot 5
MAORI ART
Collection of drawings, and illustrated letters from Major General Horatio Gordon Robley to book collector George Calvert, [no place or date but possibly c.1919-1920]
Sold for £ 2,250 (US$ 2,946) inc. premium

Lot Details
MAORI ART Collection of drawings, and illustrated letters from Major General Horatio Gordon Robley to book collector George Calvert,  [no place or date but possibly c.1919-1920]
MAORI ART
Collection of drawings, and illustrated letters from Major General Horatio Gordon Robley to book collector George Calvert, including seven illustrations by Robley on postcards, comprising; an ink and watercolour drawing of a greenstone hei-tiki with red eyes; three pen and watercolour grisaille drawings of hei-tikis; watercolour of a carved Maori ancestral figure with the inscription 'E Tupuna/my ancestor' and on the reverse 'an artist said there was a likeness but it was "Amidships"'; pen drawing of a tattooed Maori warrior's head; another of a warrior entitled 'Tutu Ngarahu. Maori War Dance', many signed by the artist, 140 x 90mm. and smaller; with seven autograph letters from Robley to Calvert ("Dear Calvert"), some illustrated with hei-tiki, enclosing drawings and asking whether any philatelist friends might be interested in buying the 'original picture for the Maori 1 ½ stamps, ie for that head only', 14 pages, 8vo, [no place or date but possibly c.1919-1920]

Footnotes

  • "THE ORNAMENT WAS PARAMOUNT AMONGST THE MAORIES": ILLUSTRATIONS OF TIKI AND MAORI WARRIORS BY THE SOLDIER, ARTIST AND COLLECTOR, HORATIO GORDON ROBLEY, several of which are pasted into George Calvert's own annotated copy of his Catalogue of 1017 Books, Maps, Pamphlets, &c. relating to Australia, New Zealand and the South Seas...collected by Mr George Calvert, London, 1920. Calvert notes that they were 'Drawn especially for me by General Robley'.

    Whilst stationed in New Zealand with the 68th Regiment in 1864, Robley became fascinated by Maori culture, in particular the intricate tattoo designs he saw on wounded and dead Maori warriors. His accurate sketches of the designs were later reproduced in the Illustrated London News and in his retirement he wrote two definitive works, Moko or Maori Tattooing published in 1896 and, in 1915, the book referred to in these letters Pounamu: Notes on New Zealand Greenstone. Robley's collection of Mokomakai, or dried tattooed heads, was purchased by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, whilst much of the rest of his collection was later acquired by the ethnographic collector William Ockleford Oldham. This collection was purchased by the New Zealand Government in 1948, and is now distributed among the regional museums of New Zealand.

    This correspondence is not dated but it is likely to have taken place around 1919-1920. Robley makes mention in two of the letters of the drawing for the 1 ½ d brown Victory stamp, issued in 1920 to honour the volunteer Maori Battalion that fought alongside New Zealand troops in the Great War, and which features a tattoed Maori warrior. Robley incorporates a sketch of the head in his letter and remarks of the design '...it was copied from my drawing of a famously decorated face...'.

    George Calvert's extensive collection was inherited from his Australian uncle, John Calvert. He continued adding to the collection to create "probably... the most complete library of Australasian books ever offered for sale" which was auctioned at Hodgson's rooms in London in May 1924. The present group of drawings and correspondence comes by direct descent from the family of George Calvert.
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