Oil on canvas
1300 x 1700mm
This affecting group portrait—formerly called The Morning Walk—is one of the artist’s largest paintings. It shows three of the children of Harry Linley Richardson and Constance Verrier Cooper (1879–1947). They are, left to right, Alan (1914–67), Barbara (1910–63), and Joan (1913–32). Given the apparent ages of the subjects, the piece was probably painted about 1916, when the artist was living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara and working as Head of the Art Department at Wellington Technical School.
Members of Richardson’s family, including another daughter, Cynthia (1923–33), appear in several other seminal works, such as Bathing the Baby (c. 1913–14) and Cynthia’s Birthday (1926–27), both at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū (69/107, 69/106), and In Fancy Dress (c. 1930, also known as Party, Christmas Eve), at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (1948-0005-3). Jane Vial has noted that ‘his descendants remember the strain of his demands on the children to pose and the cost of his painting to the household purse’.
It has been commented that Richardson’s family portraits possess a certain stiffness and are seldom overtly joyful. It might equally be observed that they convey a sense of calm, stability, and plenty. The Artist’s Three Children is remarkable for its warm, dappled sunlight, a feature that takes on additional poignancy when one considers the likely date of production, partway through the First World War.
InscriptionsH LINLEY RICHARDSON ·R·B·A· [l.l.]
From the BNZ Art Collection, City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 4 December 1998 to 21 February 1999
Harry Linley Richardson, 1878–1947, Manawatū Art Gallery, Te Papaioea Palmerston North, 1986, cat. no. 14
Group show, Auckland City Art Gallery (later Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki), c. 1980
Rosco (i.e. Rosco’s Department Store), Te Papaioea Palmerston North, 1931, cat. no. 7
39th Annual Exhibition, Auckland Society of Arts, Tāmaki Makaurau, 1920, cat. no. 339
New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 1918, cat. no. 133
Jane Vial, Harry Linley Richardson, 1878–1947: Painter, Designer, Illustrator and Teacher (Te Papaioea Palmerston North: Manawatū Art Gallery, 1986), 44.
Fletcher Trust Collection, purchased from The Bank of New Zealand Art Collection Part II, Webb’s, Tāmaki Makaurau, 27 September 2022, lot 168
Bank of New Zealand Art Collection, purchased from Webb’s, 24 March 1983, lot 343
J. Summerfelt, Tāmaki Makaurau (as attested by Auckland City Art Gallery exhibition label, now lost)
Sold by Cordy’s, Tāmaki Makaurau, 1968
Connie Richardson (stored for 10 years by Child Freighters)
Harry Linley Richardson