Charles Tole

untitled (Landscape)

1968
oil on board
350mm x 530mm

signed Charles Tole and dated ’68 in brushpoint lower left

Provenance

Acquired from Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington, 2006.

Essay

Charles Tole (1903-86) flies somewhat under the radar as a painter, though he has, and has always had, keen admirers. You won’t find much more than passing mention of him in t...

Read full text
Estimate $15,000 - $20,000
Achieved $14,662.50

Charles Tole

untitled (Landscape)

1968

oil on board

signed Charles Tole and dated ’68 in brushpoint lower left

350mm x 530mm

Auction N˚1

Estimate $15,000 - $20,000

Achieved $14,662.50

Footnotes
  1. Ron Brownson, Art Toi: New Zealand Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, 2011), 109.

The Landscapes of Charles Tole

by Peter Simpson

Charles Tole (1903-86) flies somewhat under the radar as a painter, though he has, and has always had, keen admirers. You won’t find much more than passing mention of him in the standard reference books, but he is surprisingly well represented in major metropolitan collections—the Hocken Collections, Christchurch Art Gallery, Te Papa Tongarewa, the Auckland Art Gallery, the Fletcher Trust, the BNZ and university collections at Victoria and Auckland. His smallish, intelligent, beautifully composed and finished paintings are an undervalued treasure of New Zealand art.

Tole, a life-long Aucklander, studied at Sacred Heart College and Auckland University and became a public servant. He began painting around 1940 in his late thirties, without formal training. The main influences on his development were his older brother John Tole (1890-1967) and the Cubist-trained artist and teacher John Weeks (1888-1965). The Toles, who often exhibited together, once wrote: “We have always been intensely interested in modern developments in style and technique, yet we think these elements should not be arbitrarily or consciously striven for but should emerge and flow freely from the subject matter and from the artist’s creative intuition towards the expression and communication of his message.” They shared a locally inflected version of modernism with other near contemporaries such as Rita Angus and Doris Lusk.

Charles Tole exhibited with the Auckland Society of Arts, with the mildly experimental Rutland and Thornhill Groups in Auckland, and sometimes further afield. He showed with the Christchurch Group in 1948 and exhibited with his brother at the Architectural Centre Gallery in Wellington in 1957. Peter McLeavey exhibited his work in Wellington in the 1980s. He was mainly a weekend and occasional painter until his retirement in 1965 when his output increased considerably.