The Adam Portraiture Award 2016 – The People’s Choice Award: Why I voted for…The Empress of Auckland, by Hugh Major

Friend of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Jane Kirkcaldie writes the portrait she voted for for the 2016 Adam Portraiture Award, People's Choice Award.

The Empress of Auckland (Charlotte Drinkwater), by Hugh Major, finalist in the Adam Portraiture Award 2016.


I voted for Empress of Auckland by Hugh Major for her strength and serenity that captured my attention instantly, for the breathtaking colours and to my eye the juxtaposition of contemporary setting with this fairytale-like figure dominating the foreground. 

Modern suburban Auckland with its villas, cars and front gardens giving evidence of city life and people, forms the back-ground to the Empress who sits in splendid isolation commanding attention from the peace and quiet of a magical glade overlooking the city.  The luminous colours of emerald and sapphire with splashes of ruby red and orange remind me of medieval manuscripts and the Empress herself completes an air of pre-Raphaelite elegance and grace. 

My eye lingers over the minute and precise details of the wildlife, the hydrangea petals, the foliage and then back to the detail of the city, and I feel a sense of enchantment. I wonder about her ‘story’.