Russell Winterburn


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Early Life

Russell John Winterburn (b.22/02/1944 ) is a self-taught portrait and landscape artist specializing in realism. From an early age Winterburn was sketching accurate portraits. Inspired and fascinated with scenes of Scotland and New Zealand painted by his maternal Great grandfather Alexander Forbes of Aberdeen, Scotland, Winterburn began to develop an inherent skill, which as a young man he never took seriously, nor promoted. His paternal Great great grandfather Joseph James Winterburn before emigrating to Nelson, New Zealand in 1849, was a London based commercial artist specializing in decorating coach and carriage doors in Victorian times. When he left the Air Force in 1968, Winterburn worked as a television technician. Within this industry he operated with an associate whose paintings of English coastal scenes intrigued him. Impressed by the fact that this man was self-taught Winterburn was inspired to paint.


With his artistic capabilities revived Winterburn's career began with the painting of landscapes as he rendered dramatic Wellington coastal scenes on to stretched canvases. Winterburn studied his craft seriously and came to understand the glazing techniques of classical 'old masters' such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Caravaggio and Vermeer, techniques which he then applied to his own canvasses. This finely honed skill provided a breakthrough for Winterburn as his portraits and landscapes now achieved a life-like glow, lifting his work to new dimensions.

Winterburn first came to public recognition in 1999 with his portrait of Dame Te Atairangikaahu the now deceased Maori Queen, from whom he received a personal commission. Deftly capturing her likeness, Winterburn's reputation proceeded to spread with further superb renderings of other Maori icons; Dame Whina Cooper, Marara Maihi, Herepo Rongo, Patuone, Te Aho o Te Rangi Wharepu, Tawhiao the second Maori king and many other well, and some lesser-known Maori subjects. Famous for his portraits of old Maori kuia and tribal chiefs, some from live sittings, but most of days gone by, Winterburn says that being part Maori helps him to capture the 'wairua' (spirit) of his Maori subjects.


As a portrait, landscape, and equine painter Winterburn is widely diversified, adroitly working with the many and varied themes requested of him by Maori and European commissioned sitters. Equine art is another field in which he excels with his fine paintings of New Zealand thoroughbreds; Zabeel, Phar Lap, Sunline, and the iconic stallion Sir Tristram, all were keenly sought by prominent racehorse owners and private art collectors. Mostly commissioned, Winterburn's portraits of notable New Zealand thoroughbreds are now highly desirable acquisitions amongst both New Zealand and overseas collectors of equine art.


Russell completed a commissioned portrait of Sir John Graham, ex Auckland Grammar school principal and All Black captain, which resulted in further commissions of New Zealand rugby icons such as Sir Colin Meads. He has completed portraits of notable All Blacks such as Richie McCaw, Steven{beaver} Donald, Liam Messum, Mils Muliaina and Richard Kahui.


A highly successful exhibitor in the past Winterburn is now almost wholly taken up with private commissions; his preference now being to paint rather than take part in group exhibitions. Art collectors keenly seek his exclusive portraits and recently his paintings (portraits and landscapes) have fetched top prices at the Art for Heart Foundation Auctions. A painting of a young Sir Edmund Hillary, personally endorsed and signed by Sir Edmund Hillary was sold for NZ$18,000, and a more recent portrait of Sir Edmund has also sold. Winterburn was a featured exhibitor in the inaugural Los Angeles 'Absolute LA International Biennial Expo' art exhibition held from 9 July - 16 August 2003. His featured paintings were exhibited in the Lois Lambert Gallery of Functional Art, Santa Monica, to great acclaim. Landscapes and Maori portraits have been exhibited for years at Fishers Gallery at Parnell and Christchurch, The Blue Penguin Gallery at Russell, Bay of Islands, Exhibitions gallery, Wellington and currently at "Central Art Gallery Queenstown."

This book, "PORTRAITS PAST & PRESENT" features many iconic Maori portraits and biographies by Winterburn, depicting a continuation of the great work of the celebrated New Zealand artist Charles Frederick Goldie. The portraits Winterburn features are from his own researched images of such notable Goldie sitters as Patara Te Tuhi, Te Aho O Te Rangi Wharepu, Pipi Haerehuka, Kapi Kapi (also known as Te Ahinata) as well as those of other famous chiefs and kuia, all painted in the life-like, classical style of New Zealand's most famous portrait artist, Charles Frederick Goldie.

 Ngati Raukawa. Otaki marae

Ngati Kahu. Bethlehem,Tauranga. Wairoa marae by Wairoa river.

Tauwhao Te Ngare, on Rangiwaea Island next to Matakana Island.

{shareholder of Rangiwaea Island.)

Ngati Ranginui. Tauranga moana area.

Ngai Te Rangi. Tauranga, Bowentown, mayor Island.

Te Arawa. Rotorua.


In 2012 Winterburn's privately commissioned works included a notable portrait of Sir William Gallagher KNZM, MBE, HonD. This painting currently hangs in the Gallagher Group foyer, Hamilton, New Zealand. This same year Russell also completed a commissioned portrait of Sir Dryden Spring, KBE, DSc. He was chairman of The Waikato Dairy Company prior to evolution of the giant Co-op Fonterra. A further two privately commissioned portraits of Patuone were completed for descendants of this notable Ngapuhi chief. A recently commissioned portrait of Te Aho o te Rangi Wharepu has been completed in May 2013.