The portrait depicts a man with traditional Māori Ta Moko face tattoos wearing a hei-tiki pendant.

Māori portrait heads home to New Zealand after winning bid of £1,800 at Lichfield auction

A PORTRAIT of a Māori man by renowned New Zealand artist Vera Cummings has sold at auction in Lichfield for £1,800.

Cummings’ esteemed paintings were among the first to focus on Māori people.

This portrait is now ‘going home’ as it was won by an online bidder in New Zealand, who fought off competition from Australia to secure the lot.

The 20cm by 15cm signed oil on canvas depicts a man with traditional Māori Ta Moko face tattoos wearing a hei-tiki pendant and, although undated, was probably painted in the 1930s or 1940s.

It sold in Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Antiques & Home Sale on March 11.

The canvas, which spent six decades tucked away in a drawer, was consigned for sale at The Lichfield Auction Centre following a valuation in person after an initial enquiry via email.

David Fergus from Richard Winterton Auctioneers with the portrait by Vera Cummings.
David Fergus from Richard Winterton Auctioneers with the portrait by Vera Cummings.

Vera (Veronica) Cummings was a New Zealand painter and student of renowned portrait artist CF Goldie.

Born in Thames – a small town on New Zealand’s North Island – in 1891 to parents of Scottish and Irish descent, the family later moved to Hamilton, Tauranga and Auckland.

Something of a prodigy, at the age of 11 Cummings was one of the youngest students to receive a scholarship to attend Elam School of Fine Arts and studied under Goldie.

After graduation, she continued to paint alongside Goldie and frequently depicted the same people, often elderly Māori from a hostel near the Aukland suburb of Parnell.

Cummings herself lived in Parnell near Judges Bay and died in Auckland in 1949, aged 58.

Her paintings continue to sell well at auction; her work ‘Portrait of a Māori Woman’ is part of the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

Appointments for free valuations of all types of items can be booked on 01543 251081 or by emailing office@richardwinterton.co.uk.

Free home visits for large collections and house clearance quotations are also available.

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