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Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook

SHARPE, Alfred c.1830–c.1912

SHARPE, Alfred c.1830–c.1912

Auckland watercolourist of distinction. Born in England, son of Captain Sharp (sic), Clifton Park near Liverpool. Studied at Birkenhead School of Art probably 1854–1857, trained as an architect. Probably was the A. Sharpe who arrived in Auckland 26 Sept 1859 on Tornado though he wrote in 1881 that he had been a resident ‘for about 24 years’ i.e. since 1857. In 1866 an Alfred Sharpe married a Jane Jeffaries. An A. Sharp worked as a clerk in the Customs Department 1864 and an A. Sharpe worked in Customs Department Locker 1867, yet Alfred Sharpe the painter wrote of farming up north for twelve years after he arrived in New Zealand. Was definitely in Auckland by 1871 exhibiting with Society of Artists, Auckland 1871–1879, in 1879 receiving letter of commandation. At times during these years he took pupils. In 1872 we know he asked for permission to hold his 4th annual art union of paintings.

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Was listed as an Auckland artist 1880–81 Wise's. In 1881 was on first committee of new Auckland Society of Arts (he was proposed by Kennett Watkins, seconded by T. L. Drummond), and exhibited with society until 1887 though he was still listed as a working member in 1888. Was Secretary of NZ Art Students Association 1884–85 (Kennett Watkins President): in 1885 received silver medal for landscapes. On 11 May 1888 the wife of A. Sharpe ‘artist and architect’ died in Auckland Refuge. By 1889 he was in Newcastle, Australia, where his younger brother William Bethel Sharpe lived and at sometime was mayor. There he painted NZ scenes as well as Australian ones, but he signed them A. Sharp, no longer spelling his name with an ‘e.’ He sometimes exhibited his work in shop windows, there being no art gallery. Was listed as Newcastle architect 1895–1912 in Shands County Directory. Sharpe, as well as being a painter, wrote verse, articles for the paper, letters to papers re art, in Australia as well as Auckland, and with all these accomplishments he apparently had to contend with being what was known as ‘deaf and dumb’. There are various references, one being a letter from painter J. Symons to painter J. C. Richmond mentioning that on the committee of the new Auckland Society of Arts there was “I gent, who is deaf and dumb”. An Aucklander now dead used to watch him painting and see him speaking with his hands. Exhibited Melbourne International Ex 1880–81. Work included in Centennial Exhibition Wtn 1940. Represented in ACAG, NAG, and Hocken (on loan), also in Newcastle Public Library and Mitchell Library, Sydney.