Duncan Darroch - a self taught artist

Looks like the roof of the old Hermitage at the Whitehorse campground.

His paintings reflected the spirit of the man.
Artist, botanist, mountain guide.

Duncan Darroch (1888-1967) was born in Otago, raised in Milton, and was a sailor in the 1920s working on Union Steam Ship Company coasters visiting every port in New Zealand and travelling to Canada and Britain, painting during his journeys. He studied at the Canterbury School of Art in 1922 under Archibold Nicoll although he was largely self taught. 1928 was a farrier and then a ranger at Mount Cook. He lived at Mt Cook from 1926 until his death. He painted mountains and seascapes in an impressionist style and is represented in the Aigantighe (Timaru), Dunedin, Forrester (Oamaru), Hawkes Bay, Hocken (Dunedin), McDougall (Christchurch), University of Canterbury Christchurch), Sutter (Nelson), Te Papa (Wellington) galleries and at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, Hermitage. Painted in oils. He bequeathed his chalet, Tighnabruaich, at Mt Cook, to the New Zealand Forest and Bird Protection Society.  Do a Ctl N and compare with recent photos.

Mt Cook from the Hermitage     		14x18" 		oil
Mt Cook and Mueller Glacier    		14x18" 		oil/board 
Mt. Cook & Mueller Glacier  		36 x 46 	oil on board
Mountain lake scene                   	 9x10" 		oil/board 	
Mountain lakes scene                 	 9x10" 		oil/board 		
Mount Cook                              15x19" 		oil/canvas/board 
Mount Cook 				12.2x14.6in 	oil 
Mt Cook 				16x23cm 	oil/canvas 
Mount Cook                              65x83cm 	oil/canvas Est. $300-500
The Reflection of Mount Cook 		16.5x22 	oil/canvas/board 
Lake and Mountain Landscape 		44x59 cm 	oil/board 
Hochstetter Icefall 					oil on canvas 
Lake Pukaki and Mt Cook fresh snow      82.5cm x 58.5cm
Mt Cook and Lake Pukaki								Price $650 in 2009
Mt Cook from Lake Pukaki 				oil on board 
Mt Cook "Tighnabruaich"            	28x23cm signed and dated 1.4.59
The Reflection of Mount Cook 		16.6x22cm 	oil/board 
The Reflection of Mount Cook 		16.5x22cm 	oil/canvas/board 
The Reflection of Mount Cook 		19 x 21.5cm 	oil on board 
Mt Cook from Lake Pukaki 		170 x 210mm 	oil on board 
Mt Cook 				16x23.5cm 	oil/canvas 
Mount Cook				39.5x49.5cm 	oil/canvas/board 
Mount Cook  				65x83cm 	oil/canvas 
Snow capped Peaks 			20x23 		oil/canvas 
Lake and Mountain  			44x59cm 	oil/board 
Mountain Lake Scene 			23x27cm 	oil/board 
Mount Cook and Mueller Glacier 		36x46cm 	oil/board 
Mt. Cook & Mueller Glacier  		36 x 46 	oil on board 
Southern Alps				44cm x 34cm 	oil			Price $565 on Trade me June 2012
Glacier scene				33.5cm x 28cm 	oil 			Price $850.00
Glacier  	 			25x28cm 	oil/board
Mountain Lake  				23x27cm 	oil/board 
The erosion of landscape by flooding 	85 x 60 cm	oil on canvas		Mt Cook area. A large painting
Lake Mathieson and Mt Tasman 		170 x 210mm 	oil on board   
Rotten Tommy from the Hermitage 	1932
Eternal Snows 				1932
Sunlight and Shadow, Hooker Valley 	1932 		alpine scenery being painted in all its grandeur
The Three Sisters, Ben Nevis 		27.5 x 36 	oil on board 
The Earnslaw, Lake Wakatipu		35x42cm 	oil 			Price $895.00
At the Going of the Sun 
The Bow, Pamir				46x60cm 	oil on board 
Pamir End of Voyage                 			oil painting 	Aigantighe Art Gallery, Timaru
Pamir under full sail			36x54cm 	oil
Pamir sails reefed			25.5x22cm
Pamir Deck Scene 			33x26.5cm 	oil on canvas
Pamir off Godley Head, Lyttelton	53 x 35 cm      oil
Hills and Cloud, Hawaii 		31x38cm 	oil/board 
Coastal Scene 				24.4x37cm 	oil/board 
Coastal Scene 				9.75x14.75in 	oil 		sold in Jan. 2005 $US201 
Maori Chief "retinana Te Rua Poutu" 	21.7x16.1in 	oil 		Portrait sold May 2007 $US95 
Unloading sulphur boat 			25cm x 18 cm 
Turbulent Seas 				40cm x 56cm 	oil on board	Opposite Godley Heads, Lyttelton Harbour 
"Winterholm"				33cm x 40cm 	oil on canvas	sailing ship  Sold on trade-me in 2010	
Wild seascape Ocean cloud		19cm x13cm	

Charm of Mt. Cook, New Zealand / ... paintings by Duncan Darroch.
Publisher : Timaru [N.Z.] : Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Co., [1934]  8p chiefly col. ill. ; 23 x 29 cm pamphlet

Timaru Herald 5 Dec. 1967
Mr Duncan Darroch died in the Oamaru Hospital yesterday. He was 79. Mr Darroch, his picturesque chalet Tighnabruaich and its novel umbrella (set up beside his chalet, and where keas were fed by him night and morning) on the Glencoe Fan, near the Hermitage Hotel were as much part of the Mt Cook scene as the Alps themselves. He painted the extremes of nature - mountains and the sea, and in his lifetime he produced a multitude of canvases. He caught the moods of the mountains and he portrayed the sea as he found it during his many voyages round the coast of New Zealand, and to Canada and Scotland.

12.2 x 14.6 in

One painting - a scene of Mt Cook with the alpine after glow illuminating it- was bought by a tourist and subsequently donated to an art gallery in New York. The Aigantighe gallery in Timaru has 20 of his paintings which were gifted to the city by him. He turned his art on occasions to practical purposes, and part of a series depicting erosion caused by tussock and bush fires hangs in the office of the South Canterbury Catchment Board. Mr Darroch was born in Milton and was a descendant of the seafaring islanders of Jura, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. He lived most of his life in the mountains or on the sea. He joined the staff of the Hermitage in the 1920s to assist with the horses used on the tourist trip to the Ball Hut, and with the various changes of administration his work developed into taking parties of tourists out on the mountains. another painting

His knowledge of botany and his powers of observation, together with his established reputation as a painter, were invaluable qualities for his work as a guide and companion. He always carried a sketching outfit in his pack  Passing generations will remember his sparse kilted figure tramping the Tasman Glacier and the various tracks or stilled before an easel as he painted one of his mow famous mountain scenes. Mr Darroch was practically a self-taught artist. When he played his guitar keas would mob him. He also shoed horses at Mt Cook. His address was The Hermitage.

31 x 41 cms painting only. Sold on trade-me Dec 2 2007 for $NZ 300.  

For a period he worked for the Union Steam Ship Company aboard its coasters. He was fascinated by the Pamir and he followed it around New Zealand, painting it on several occasions but never once sailing on it. Mr Darroch, never married, was appointed an honorary ranger of the Mt Cook National Park Board in 1954. Duncan loved New Zealand, its native birds and its native bush.



A painter of mountains, seas and ships.

Timaru Herald 9 Dec. 1967.
Duncan Darroch, Man of the Mountains by W. Vance.

Thousands of tourists photographed him on the glaciers with his tam-o-shanter, kilt and alpenstock. Duncan came to the Hermitage in the twenties, during the regime of R.LK. Wigley, whom he admired. Whenever I went to the Hermitage , my first port of call was Duncan's chalet [postcard by Gladys Goodall] to hear his dissertation on the evils of smoking, the dangers of fires, and the future of art. Then he would show me his piles of unfinished paintings, his new bird-feeding trough, then came a grand finale of piano-accordion playing. Duncan preferred solitude. Neither a grand home nor elegant clothes had any appeal. He went his own way, thought his own thoughts, and spoke his own mind, fearless of any man. The affinity with the mountains found expression in his paintings. With profits from his paintings he made generous donations to disabled seaman fiends and was especially interested in financially helping the building of lifeboats for the Goodwin Sands, England. He id a great deal in trying to conserve the Mount Cook vegetation. He cared for the bush, fed the birds, especially the keas, put up notices warning of the danger of fires, and spent his time in ceaseless activity trying to keep Mt Cook area as much as possible, in its native state. And in all his labours, he was attended by his companion - his faithful little dog. He was aware of the growing threat from deer and chamois and would often point out where natural regeneration had been destroyed by animals causing loss of tree cover and accelerated erosion.

TH - another article.
Conservationist and tree Lover by R. St. Barbe Baker.
Visitors to Mt Cook must be grateful to Darroch for the stalwart stand he took when there was threat to build in the line of the famous view of the mountain.


"Pamir End of Voyage" in Wellington Harbour, oil painting by Duncan Darroch. photo
The Pamir was a four-masted steel barque built in 1905. He never sailed in her.

Bearings 1992 Volume 4 Number 3 Pages 12-14 Article : Duncan Darroch and the Pamir ( Caldwell, Elizabeth ) Biographical sketch of New Zealand painter Duncan Darroch and his fascination for the Pamir.

Memorial exhibition of oil paintings by the late Duncan Darroch. "Mountains, Sea and Lakes" commencing 23rd June, 1969. McGregor Wright Gallery...Wellington. [catalogue] Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

MT COOK PAINTING RETURNED.
Timaru Herald 17 February 2004
A survivor of the second Hermitage fire half a century ago has returned to Mt Cook. The painting of Mt Cook, by then resident artist Duncan Darroch, was saved from the 1957 fire, but a hole was punched through one corner in the rescue effort. Darroch was so upset by the damage that he refused to allow it to be hung in the rebuilt Hermitage, and kept it under his bed for a couple of years before selling it to an American visitor in 1959. Hermitage general manager and Mt Cook Museum Trust trustee Denis Callesen said Darroch only allowed the woman to buy it because she reminded him of the nurses during the war. The one metre by 75cm painting has been in Hawaii ever since, but with its owner now moving to a smaller unit, she offered it to the Mt Cook Museum Trust. Her daughter Stephanie Kirkpatrick was in Mt Cook this week to hand over the painting to the trust. The painting will hang in the hotel until the trust gets its own home. Darroch lived in a cottage behind the Hermitage from 1920 until three months before his death in 1967. A kilt and hobnail boots were his usual form of dress. Mr Callesen said Darroch, whose work has developed quite a following, was very particular about who he sold his paintings to. He would never sell a painting to a person who smoked, and refused to allow the hotel to hang any of his works in the rebuilt Hermitage as guests were allowed to smoke in the building. Most of his work featured ships, especially the sailing barque Pamir, or landscapes of the Mt Cook area.

AFFINITY FOR MT COOK REGION
Timaru Herald 24 June 2006
Hochstetter Icefall, oil on canvas by Duncan Darroch (1888-1967)
Given by the artist in 1963
Duncan Darroch was born in Milton, Otago, to parents newly arrived from Scotland. He moved to Mt Cook in 1915 where he was a farrier (he shod the horses) for the Mount Cook Company. In the early 1920s Darroch worked for the Union Steam Ship Company visiting every port in New Zealand and travelling to Canada and Britain, painting during his journeys. He trained at the Canterbury College School of Art in 1922, but was largely a self-taught artist preferring to go back to sea and painting what he saw. When he returned to New Zealand in 1928, Darroch went back to Mt Cook where he worked at the Hermitage, later becoming an honorary ranger for the National Park and a well-known local character. He built a home and studio in a cottage called "Tignabruaich" (the little house on the rise) which was designed to resemble a ship's cabin. Mountains and the sea were the main subjects of Darroch's work and he was well known as the "Mt Cook painter" for his many versions of Aoraki. Also the huge sailing ship Pamir (one of the last of its kind, as commercial shipping moved to propeller driven vessels) was almost an obsession for Darroch, who followed the ship around New Zealand's ports between the years 1939-45 and painted many canvasses of it. Darroch was not included in South Canterbury painting circles at the time, being considered a bit of a self- taught "rough diamond" but he was a highly accomplished artist and is long overdue for a revival of appreciation. His work is Post-Impressionist in style, portraying vivid colour and dramatic light. The Hochstetter Icefall is part of the Hochstetter Glacier in the Mt Cook region, descending from the Grand Plateau to the Tasman Glacier.

Stock footage of lodge and artist Duncan Darroch painting

Twentieth Century Artists
South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

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