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HAMILTON, Augustus.

Maori Art: The Art Workmanship of the Maori Race in New Zealand.

Wellington: The New Zealand Institute, 1896 Stock Code: 146555
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First edition, issued in five parts between 1896 and 1900, bound in the publisher's cloth upon the issue of the fifth and final part. Hamilton's Maori Art was a monumental publication documenting and depicting a wealth of Maori artwork. A total of 900 copies were printed and bindings were offered as here or in brown morocco with a matching design.

Augustus Hamilton (18531913) emigrated to New Zealand in 1875 and swiftly began to collect Maori artefacts that would become the main body of the present richly illustrated work. He was appointed director of New Zealand's first national museum the Colonial (now Dominion) Museum in 1903. He donated his collection and moved the museum's focus towards the collection and study of Maori history, art, and culture. "Hamilton's appreciation of Maori art sprang from his natural-science interest in 'curiosities' rather than from any Romantic attitude towards Maori culture... in spite of all the descriptive writing in his large book on Maori art, Hamilton did not at this stage articulate any coherent theory of Maori aesthetics or of the significance of Maori carving", instead beginning to express ideas about Maori art in terms that would appeal to audiences of 'good design' influenced by the arts and crafts and aesthetic movements coming from England (Neich, 2001). Hamilton fostered close working relationships with Maori leaders ensuring direct donations of art, however, also became "somewhat notorious for constraining Maori experimentation and encourage a traditional orthodoxy" (McCarthy, p 47).

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Large quarto. Original brown cloth, titles and Maori design blocked in gilt to spine and front cover, pale pink endpapers.


Numerous black and white photographic illustrations, 7 pages of rafter designs printed in red and black.


Prospectus for the work on pink paper tipped in and photograph of Hamilton pasted beneath to front free endpaper. Front free endpaper, first blank, frontispiece, title page, and first leaf all sometime reattached using paper tape, their original detachment somewhat unsurprising given the large and weighty book block, tape reinforcement to gutters of final few leaves, a better than good copy.


Conal McCarthy, Exhibiting Maori: A History of Colonial Cultures of Display, 2007; Roger Neich, Carved Histories: Rotorua Ngati Tarawhai Woodcarving, 2001.


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