Watercolour on paper
290 x 460mm
Born in England, Hoyte arrived in Auckland in 1860 having, it is said, spent some years in the West Indies and briefly returned to England where he married. From 1863 he was assistant master at the Church of England Grammar School and drawing master 1868–69. He exhibited watercolours, took pupils in his Parnell studio and augmented his income by selling both paintings and artists’ materials. In 1869 he was one of three founder members of the Auckland Society of Artists exhibiting there from 1871–77 but by 1876 he had moved to Dunedin and was exhibiting with the Otago Arts Society. In 1870 Hoyte went to live in Sydney and in 1880 was elected first president of the Art Society of New South Wales. He died in Sydney.
Gully and Hoyte were generally recognised as the premier New Zealand artists of their time. Also like Gully, Hoyte usually subordinated topographical accuracy to picturesque effects of light and atmosphere. His paintings are to a certain extent produced to a formula with a preference for bright colouration and strong blue/purple shadows. His compositions are static which gives them a calm, undramatic beauty. Francis Pound (in Frames on the Land) has pointed out how closely Hoyte followed the list of requirements for a picturesque painting laid down by Gilpin in his Tour of the Lakes the backgrounds are provided by mountains or water; the middle ground by valleys, villages or woods; foreground by ruins, rocks, broken ground or battered trees.
Backgrounds should be painted with tenderness of tone while foregrounds should be painted with richness and glowing tints. Cloaked Maori figures satisfied Gilpin’s stricture that people in picturesque works should resemble classical figures. Hoyte has been criticised for his mistakes in these four 1868 scenes of Coromandel. Bought in 1962, they were also the first paintings bought by Sir James Fletcher and George Fraser for what soon became known as The Fletcher Collection.