Queen Street, Auckland 1889

Oil on canvas

1253 x 1536 mm

Inscribed: Auckland. 20 December 1889. J. Carabain.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Edmiston Trust.

It is believed that Jaques Carabain purchased photographer George Valentine’s view of Queen Street, taken around 1883 and used it as the basis for this painting, although it was probably painted back in Europe.

Urban views are relatively rare in New Zealand painting of the period, when artists displayed more interest in grappling with the picturesque trappings of forest or mountain than with the realities of the inner city. Carabain’s depiction of Queen Street is remarkable in showing us a streetscape that has now almost completely changed. The viewpoint is from just below the corner of Fort Street and the imposing brick building is the Victoria Arcade, demolished in 1978 ...*

The Arcade was built in 1906 for the NZ Insurance Company, the year Philip Edmiston retired from the company. The arcade later housed many artists' studios including painters Louis J. Steele, Italian Girolamo Pieri Nerli and Charles Blomfield.

*Reference: The Guide, 2001, published by Auckland Art Gallery.

Jacques CARABAIN 1834-1933

Born in Amsterdam Jacques Carabain was known for his painting of landscapes and townscapes. He studied at the Amsterdam Akademie under the guidance of J. Schoenmaker Doyer and of V. Bing. He later travelled to Italy, Germany, France and Austria. In 1880 he obtained Belgian nationality. In the late 1880s he visited Australia where he undertook street scenes of Melbourne and Sydney.  He may have visited Auckland at this time.

Artwork Location