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Nugent Welch

1881-1970

Nugent Hermann Welch was born Akaroa in 1881. He studied at the Canterbury School of Art and Wellington Technical College but was essentially a self-taught artist. In 1897 he became a clerk in the accounts branch of the Wellington Harbour Board. He first exhibited at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts (NZAFA) in 1904, and resigned from the Harbour Board in 1907 to become a full-time professional artist.

Nugent Hermann Welch was born Akaroa in 1881. He studied at the Canterbury School of Art and Wellington Technical College but was essentially a self-taught artist. In 1897 he became a clerk in the accounts branch of the Wellington Harbour Board. He first exhibited at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts (NZAFA) in 1904, and resigned from the Harbour Board in 1907 to become a full-time professional artist.

In March 1916 he enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) and served as a sniper with the 2nd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, on the Western Front. He completed a number of sketches and paintings for “Chronicles of NZEF” and “New Zealand at the Front.” In October 1917 he was promoted to lance corporal, and in April 1918 he was appointed divisional war artist to the New Zealand Division with the temporary rank of sergeant.

He completed a number of oils and a large number of watercolours during this period, through to his discharge from the NZEF in May 1919. His landscapes, which often featured ruined buildings and seldom included people, portrayed the desolate aftermath of battle.

Post–war, Welch was known as a leading Wellington landscape and marine artist, and served on the National Art Gallery Management Committee from 1936 to 1964 (which included the period of the 1952 Official Exhibition of War Art where his work was among those featured). He was also a prominent member of the NZAFA. He was awarded the OBE in 1949 for his Services to Art. Nugent Welch died in Wellington in July 1970.

Sources

  • Mackle, Tony. — ‘Welch, Nugent Hermann 1881 — 1970’ — Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007

  • Archives New Zealand Documentation, Series 898, National Collection of War Art