Few people had heard of the nineteenth century artist David Ogilvie Robertson before an extensive 20 metre long mural, painted by him in 1892, was uncovered last week in Port Chalmers during the demolition of Garrison Hall. According to an article in the Otago Daily Times published on 3 October, 1892, the wall hanging was completed for a Japanese-themed carnival of music and stalls. The linen mural depicted a Japanese scene from the island of Kinsu that included a bridge leading to a temple, adjacent islands and several trading junks.
In 2010 an album comprising paintings, sketches and photographs of marine paintings by Robertson, a former Port Chalmers resident, was donated to the Hocken’s pictorial collections. The 60-page album titled ‘Rough Sketches and Photographs of Oil Paintings by D.O. Robertson’ contains paintings of Japanese scenes, maritime paintings, photographs of the West Coast Sounds and ship paintings, pencil sketches, caricatures and clippings from late nineteenth century newspapers that feature reviews of his art.
The Hocken holds three oil paintings by Captain Thomas Robertson, whose reputation as a maritime painter surpasses that of his son’s, including one that features the Otago Harbour.
To find out more about the discovery of the Garrison Hall mural by Robertson visit http://www.odt.co.nz/print/159378