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Artwork of the Week

Raymond McIntyre’s Portrait of Edward McKnight Kauffer

image Edward McKnight Kauffer by Raymond McIntyre

Edward McKnight Kauffer, circa 1915, London, by Raymond McIntyre. Gift of the estate of C. Millan Thompson to mark the occasion of the retirement of the director, S.B. Maclennan, 1968. Image courtesy of  Te Papa Tongarewa.

Raymond Francis McIntyre was born in Christchurch, on 5 February 1879.  The creative McIntyre family lived in New Brighton.

Raymond was a student at the Canterbury College School of Art, where he took lessons under Alfred Walsh and Robert Herdman-Smith until 1908. He won a prize for the best set of drawings from the full figure in 1899, and the silver medal for a colour study of a head painted from life in 1900. Progressive local painters formed a sketch club about 1905, and McIntyre was an early member.

From around 1906 until 1908 McIntyre shared a studio in Cathedral Square with fellow artist Leonard Booth, who described him as ‘an enthusiastic desciple [ sic ] of Whistler, [who] runs music as a successful side-line. In the intervals of dabbling masterpieces on canvas, he sobs out his soul on the sorrowful ‘cello.’

McIntyre was able to observe the fresh techniques of impressionism in 1906–7 when 20 works by New English Art Club painters were shown at the New Zealand International Exhibition in Christchurch. He had been exhibiting landscapes and portraits regularly with the Canterbury Society of Arts since 1899 and by 1908 his loosely brushed paintings blended influences from Petrus van der Velden with English impressionism. Local critics were not always impressed. He was labelled ‘a decorator’ and, according to Leonard Booth, was scorned because he was an impressionist. This lack of critical and local artistic success seems to have convinced McIntyre that he should pursue his artistic career in Britain.

Arriving in London in February 1909, McIntyre began a period of intensive study and painting. He was taught by William Nicholson, George Lambert and Walter Sickert, among others. He also became socially active in London’s artistic, literary, musical and theatrical circles. He exhibited frequently over the next decade, especially at the Goupil Gallery Salon, the leading international gallery in London at the time. His work diversified in content to include street scenes, a subject McIntyre shared with the Camden Town Group, though his techniques differed greatly from these artists. From late 1920 he also began to paint rivers and parks. He continued exhibiting at the Goupil Gallery Salon and finally had a painting accepted for exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1924. He ceased to exhibit his work after 1926 although he still painted for his own enjoyment.

McIntyre was also a writer, printmaker, photographer and theatre and music critic. In 1923 he began contributing art reviews to the London journal Architectural Review. Artists he singled out for praise included Ben Nicholson, Ferdinand Hodler, Erich Heckel and Paul Signac. He stopped writing for this prominent periodical in 1931.

McIntyre died in London on 24 September 1933.

Words courtesy Teara. image courtesy Te Papa Collection

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