HOYTE, J.B.C

Figures on Bush Track, Coromandel

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Watercolour
290 x 440mm

Gold was first discovered at Coromandel in 1852. It was found in quartz reef rather than alluvial deposits so it was not until the mid-1860s that the expensive crushing equipment required for its extraction was available. Arrivals were usually from Auckland by steamer, however Hoyte made a watercolour showing two miners with pick axes being deposited on a Coromandel beach from a Māori canoe. Could the lone figure on the cleared bush track also be a miner? These four Coromandel subjects were painted five years after the artist arrived in Auckland where he was to live for sixteen years. Perhaps they were among those shown in Auckland by the artist in 1866 when he exhibited scenes from Whangarei, Coromandel, Auckland, the Waikato and Wellington regions and Nelson. It is unlikely that the painting of the Tauranga Hotel or its companion of the Commercial Hotel with the Police Station in front deserve the criticism that Hoyte often subordinated topographical accuracy to picturesque effects of light and atmosphere. Their location can be precisely pinpointed today. Neither, in the two bush landscapes, does he shy away from depicting the effects of tree felling. The NZ Herald’s Coromandel correspondent wrote on 20 July 1865 of the “utter discomfiture” of the police as the result of a defective stove which filled their premises with smoke and their consequent gratitude to the proprietor of the Tauranga Hotel for the occasional kettle of hot water. Hoyte, always an indefatigable traveller in search of subject matter, moved to the South Island in 1876, living first in Nelson then in Dunedin. In 1877 he made a cruise circumnavigating the South Island. After moving to Sydney in 1879 he continued to paint New Zealand scenes, working up finished paintings from sketches.