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Drawings, Paintings, and Prints

The Drawings, Paintings and Prints collection holds drawings, prints, paintings, cartoons and architectural plans relating to New Zealand and the Pacific from 1642 to the present.

The Drawings, Paintings and Prints collection includes the New Zealand Cartoon Archive and forms part of the Alexander Turnbull Library collections.

More than 100,000 watercolours, drawings, sketchbooks, oil paintings and prints are in the collection. Most feature New Zealand scenes, people and events.

Many pictures relate to early Māori or their way of life, and the earliest days of European contact and settlement. Images also cover the development of early towns and cities, exploration, natural history and science, shipping, and wars.

Highlights include the work of:

  • English artists who came to New Zealand and the Pacific with Captain Cook between 1769 and 1779
  • French artists visiting between 1824 and 1840
  • artists associated with the early colonisation of New Zealand from 1839 to about 1850
  • artists who painted incidents in the New Zealand wars
  • painters recording changes made by humans to the landscape from the 1840s to about 1900
  • natural history artists
  • New Zealand cartoonists from the 1880s to the present
  • portrait artists.

The collection also features:

  • early Australian drawings, prints and images of Antarctica
  • some European prints from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries
  • prints relating to the work of John Milton
  • portraits of well-known New Zealanders from the early 19th century onwards, including some sculptures
  • architectural drawings and plan prints for buildings, mostly in the greater Wellington area
  • art ephemera like New Zealand exhibition catalogues or clippings of reviews
  • three-dimensional objects, such as personal items belonging to Katherine Mansfield, Sumerian clay tablets with cuneiform inscriptions, and writing on papyrus.

More about the New Zealand Cartoon Archive

Access to the Drawings, Paintings and Prints collection

  • The original items in this collection are available in the Wellington Reading Rooms.
  • Digitised images are also available, and copies can be ordered.

For more information, use the Ask a Librarian form.

More about Turnbull Library Pictures

Get copies from items in this collection

You can order colour or black and white copies of already digitised pictures in the collection if copying doesn’t breach copyright. Formats available include digital copies on CD-ROM, inkjet prints, and photocopies.

More about making copies

More about copyright and privacy