Christopher Perkins (artist)
Background and education
Perkins was the second son of John Edward Sharman Perkins, an agricultural engineer, and his wife, Margaret Charlotte Long. He was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, then at the Heatherley School of Art in London, in 1907, an academy in Rome in 1908, and the Slade School of Fine Art, where his fellow students included Dora Carrington, Mark Gertler, Stanley Spencer and C. R. W. Nevinson.
By 1914 he launched his professional career, but joined the British army at the outbreak of the First World War, rising to the rank of acting captain. He then returned to painting, and in the 1920s he and his family lived in France. He published an essay, On Museums, in 1925. His work was becoming known, and in 1925 he was helped by Roger Fry and William Rothenstein for a teaching position. He held a major exhibition in London in 1927. In January 1929 he went to teach at the Wellington Technical College in New Zealand. In 1932 let his contract lapse and moved to Rotorua, where the availability of Maori subjects was an attraction.
Important works include Silverstream brickworks (1930), Taranaki (1931), Activity on the wharf (1931), Meditation (1931), Haka, Maori meeting (1932–34).
Perkins returned to England in February 1934. He served in the army again during the Second World War and also worked as an unofficial war artist. He achieved a reputation as a portrait painter, showing pictures at the Royal Academy of Arts and holding many exhibitions, but never attained the leading position he had had in New Zealand.
Perkins was married on 1 April 1914, to Agnes Berry Shaw. They had three children.
On Museums by Christopher Perkins (St Tropez, 1925)
- The art of Christopher Perkins by P.W. Robertson, in Art in New Zealand 4, No 13 (September 1931): 8-40
- The story of Christopher Perkins in Art in Australia 3, No 48 (February 1933): 31-37
- An introduction to New Zealand painting 1839-1980 by G. H. Brown & H. Keith (Auckland, 1980)
- An Artist's Daughter: with Christopher Perkins in New Zealand, 1929-1934 by Jane Garrett (Shoal Bay Press, Auckland, 1986) ISBN 978-0-908704-02-6
- Biography of Christopher Edward Perkins at Dictionary of New Zealand Biography