Topic: Emily C Harris (1837-1925)

Topic type:

Taranaki Botanical Artist

  Emily Harris

Emily C. Harris 

 Emily Cumming Harris was one of New Zealand’s first professional woman painters. She came to New Plymouth as a child with her family on the Plymouth Company ship, William Bryan in 1841. Emily was trained in painting by her father, draughtsman Edwin Harris, and encouraged by John Gully. The family left New Plymouth in 1860 to live in Nelson but the Harris’ maintained friends and family in Taranaki.

 Emily went to Australia to study art for several years, then returned and joined her two sisters, Frances and Ellen, in a small private school in Nelson.

Many of her botanical works are watercolours but in later life she sometimes worked with oils.

 During the 1880s Emily was involved in several exhibitions. Some of her work was done on screens, tables and drapes but although her reviews were favourable, sales of her work were not – a sale of her paintings in New Plymouth in 1890 barely covered costs.

 It was in the hope of making a reasonable profit that, in 1890, she published three slim volumes of hand-coloured lithographs – New Zealand Ferns, New Zealand Flowers and New Zealand Berries.

 Further Reading

Lady Painters

Dawson, Bee: Lady Painters, The flower painters of early NZ, 1999

The Gardenmakers of Taranaki - Goldsmith & Barrell

Goldsmith, Susette & Vern Barrell: The Gardenmakers of Taranaki, 1997 

Sampson, E Bruce: Early New Zealand Botanical Art - 1985

Sampson, F Bruce: Early NZ Botanical Art, 1985 

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Emily C Harris (1837-1925)

Last Name:Harris
Emily C Harris (1837-1925) by Ron is Copyright Act 1994