C. F. Goldie

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For the New Zealand art forger known as Carl F. Goldie, see Karl Sim.
Charles Frederick Goldie
Born (1870-10-20)20 October 1870
Auckland, New Zealand
Died 11 July 1947(1947-07-11) (aged 76)
Known for paintings of Māori dignitaries

Charles Frederick Goldie OBE (20 October 1870 – 11 July 1947) was a New Zealand artist, best known for his portrayal of Māori dignitaries.

Early life[edit]

Goldie was born in Auckland on 20 October 1870. He was named after his maternal grandfather, Charles Frederick Partington, who built the landmark Auckland windmill. His father, David Goldie, was a prominent timber merchant and politician, and a strict Primitive Methodist who resigned as Mayor of Auckland rather than toast the visiting Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York with alcohol. His mother, Maria Partington, was an amateur artist and encouraged his artistic ability. Goldie was educated at Auckland Grammar School, and while still at school won several prizes from the Auckland Society of Arts and the New Zealand Art Students' Association.

Art education[edit]

Goldie studied art part-time under Louis John Steele, after leaving school to work in his father's business. A former Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, was impressed by two of Goldie's still-life paintings that were being exhibited at the Auckland Academy of Art (Steele's art society, of which Goldie was honorary secretary) in 1891, and he talked David Goldie into permitting his son to undertake further art training abroad.

Goldie went to Paris to study at the famous Académie Julian.[1] where Goldie received a strong grounding in drawing and painting.

Artistic career[edit]

He returned to New Zealand in 1898 and established the "French Academy of Art" with Louis J. Steele, who had been his tutor prior to his departure. They collaborated on the large painting The Arrival of the Māoris in New Zealand,[2] based on Théodore Géricault's The Raft of the Medusa. It depicting exhausted, starved and stormtossed Polynesian mariners sighting land after a long journey by catamaran. It has been criticised as historically inaccurate (even in terms of contemporary anthropological knowledge) in its appearance of the crew and their vessel and in the situation of near-shipwreck depicted .[3] However, it was widely praised at the time.

Goldie and Steele parted ways not long afterwards and Goldie established his own studio. From 1901 he made field trips to meet, sketch and photograph Māori people in their own locations, and he also paid Māori visitors to Auckland to sit for him. Most of these were chiefs visiting the Native Land Court.

By far the majority of Goldie's subjects were elderly, tattooed Māori of considerable standing in their own society. (The practice of tattooing (Tā moko) was no longer current at the time, and the remaining examples were mostly elderly; it was also a practice largely confined to high-status individuals.)

Goldie dedicated his life to painting the Maori chiefs, Maori leaders and their communities who also became his friends. He lived with them on their various Maraes and spoke fluent Maori. He could have chosen to paint in many of the various popular styles of art at the time (having recently returned from Paris) but he believed that he had a gift and that was to dedicate his life to preserving the heritage of the Maori people whom he greatly admired. There are many critics of his work as it was so extraordinarily detailed. People thought that he used photographs frequently - he did not. He was highly trained and from a young age showed exceptional and undeniable talent, this is documented in his many prizes and awards throughout his lifetime. He was a gift to the Maori people and this continues to this day.

An oil portrait of Ina Te Papatahi by Goldie (1902).

On 31 October 1920 Goldie traveled to Sydney, where on 18 November at the age of 50 he married 35-year-old Olive Ethelwyn Cooper, an Australian by birth but a resident of Auckland. They did not have any children.

Goldie's health eventually deteriorated through lead poisoning (from the lead white used to prepare his canvases). In order to create the finest of detail in his paintings, he would lick the end of his paint brush to ensure an even finer tip. This was a relatively common practice of the day and sadly led to his decline in health. He produced little work in the 1920s. Encouraged by the Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, Goldie resumed painting around 1930; in 1934 and 1935 he exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and in 1935, 1938 and 1939; the Salon of the Société des artistes français.

He stopped painting altogether in 1941 and died on 11 July 1947 aged 77.[4]

Known sitters[edit]

Goldie was Auckland based and his subjects were mainly those from the tribes in the upper North Island.

Te Aho-o-te-Rangi Wharepu of Ngati Mahuta (1905)


In 1935, Goldie was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.[9] Soon after, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to art in New Zealand in the 1935 King's Birthday and Silver Jubilee Honours.[10]


Goldie's work held the Victorian attitudes he had grown up with that the Māori were a "dying race". However, many Māori value his images of their ancestors highly. On the rare occasions they are offered for sale they fetch high prices, among the highest for New Zealand paintings. People who know and understand the artist would never think to deny his place on a very high pedestal in New Zealand's artistic elite and the prices fetched reflect this view. In 2016 The International Art Gallery sold Goldie's last great artwork. The 1941 oil portrait of Wharekauri Tahuna was the first painting in New Zealand history to break the $1 million mark, finally reaching a top price of $1.175 Million. [11] In March 2008, NZ$400,000 (NZ$454,000 including buyer's premium) was paid at an International Art Millionentre auction in Auckland for the painting "Hori Pokai - Sleep, 'tis a gentle thing.[12] Earlier, NZ$530,000 ($589,625 including buyer's premium) was achieved for a Goldie work in an online auction conducted by Fisher Galleries. On 19 November 2010 opera diva Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sold the oil on canvas Forty Winks, a portrait of Rutene Te Uamairangi for $573,000. This is the most paid for a painting at auction in New Zealand.

Many Goldies are held in public collections, including those at the Auckland Art Gallery, the Auckland Institute and Museum, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. There is an ongoing controversy about the reproduction of Goldie's paintings of Māori that are held in public collections as prints for commercial sale.[13]

Forgeries by Karl Sim[edit]

The convicted art forger Karl Sim changed his name legally to Carl Feodor Goldie in the 1980s in order to be able to "legitimately" sign his Goldie copies "C.F. Goldie". He no longer tries to pass them off as by the original C.F. Goldie, however. He published an autobiography with Tim Wilson in 2003 called Good as Goldie.


  1. ^ Ian Chilvers, The Oxford Dictionary of Art, p.299
  2. ^ http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/pdfs/vol7no5_pdf-version.pdf
  3. ^ wwwnc.cdc.gov, Pdf
  4. ^ teara.govt.nz, Biography
  5. ^ "MANA-A-IWI/MANA OF THE PEOPLE". Te Huringa / Turning Points. The Fletcher Trust Collections. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "'All 'e Same t'e Pakeha' (Te Aho-o-te-Rangi Wharepu, Ngãti Mahuta), 1905". eHive. Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "Darby and Joan [Ina Te Papatahi, Nga Puhi], 1903". Collections Online. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "The widow (Harata Rewiri Tarapata, Nga Puhi), 1903". Collections Online. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  9. ^ "Official jubilee medals". Evening Post. 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  10. ^ "(Supplement) no. 34166". The London Gazette. 31 May 1935. p. 3609. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  11. ^ http://radionz.co.nz/300828
  12. ^ http://stuff.co.nz/4447144a10.html
  13. ^ http://blog.prints.co.nz/2009/05/prints-of-maori-portraits-painted-by.html


  • C.F.Goldie: Famous Māori Leaders of New Zealand by Alister Taylor (Alister Taylor Publishers, Auckland, 1993).
  • C.F. Goldie - Official website of forger Karl Sim aka C.F. Goldie [1] (link dead 31 Oct, 2008)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]