Edith Collier

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Edith Marion Collier
Edith Marion Collier with cello.jpg
Born(1885-03-28)28 March 1885
Died12 December 1964(1964-12-12) (aged 79)
NationalityNew Zealander

Edith Marion Collier (28 March 1885 – 12 December 1964) was an early modern painter from New Zealand. She came from Wanganui.[1] Her work is largely unknown at home and overseas.[2][3][4][5] Edith Collier's contribution to New Zealand art as an innovator, modernist and expatriate painter placed her in a most distinguished group, but her achievements have been eclipsed by the very company she kept – such as Frances Hodgkins and Margaret Preston.

After a thorough although conservative art education at the Technical School in Wanganui, Edith Collier left New Zealand in 1913 for St John's Wood School of Art in London.[6] She was then aged 27. Rapidly disillusioned, and feeling marginalised as an expatriate woman painter, she became more influenced by other expatriates in London, and was to enjoy greater success through exhibiting with the Society of Women Artists and Women's International Art Club – venues outside the art establishment – and became a significant Modernist painter.

Little schoolboy of Bonmahon, circa 1915, oil on canvas, 496 × 395 mm, Te Papa

Collier returned to New Zealand in 1922 as an experienced artist with innovative ideas, but as a spinster in provincial Wanganui received harsh treatment, including what Joanne Drayton describes as savage, critical assessment and negative response from her own community. In a well-known incident her father burned many of her best paintings, including her nudes.[7] She spent the rest of her life working alongside several unmarried sisters on her family's farm, assisting family members with the birth and rearing of children. She died in 1964. A street is named after her in the suburb of St Johns Hill, Wanganui.

Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua, in Whanganui, holds the majority of Collier's surviving works. These works can be viewed online.[8]


  1. ^ Drayton, Joanne. "Edith Marion Collier". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ Film, A light Among Shadows
  3. ^ "Edith Collier: Her life and work 1885-1964 - Catalogue - Canterbury University Press - University of Canterbury - New Zealand". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2009.
  4. ^ Drayton, Joanne (1999). Edith Collier: Her Life and Work 1885–1964. New Zealand: Canterbury University Press. ISBN 978-0-908812-90-5.
  5. ^ Anne Kirker, New Zealand Women Artists, Reed Methuen, 1986 ISBN 0-474-00181-4
  6. ^ "Edith Collier in Retrospect November 14 – December 13" (PDF). Bulletin. 18: 4. 1981.
  7. ^ Joanne Drayton (1997). Edith Collier: An Early New Zealand Modernist. Woman's Art Journal 18 (1): 9–13. (subscription required)
  8. ^ "Village by the Sea". Sarjeant Gallery Whanganui. Retrieved 27 March 2020.

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