Two Maori men waving or pointing to two European men, who are throwing rocks on the ground ahead of them to test its firmness. The steaming crater lake is surrounded by hills, with a geyser or fountain of hot water in the background. One of the two Europeans is likely to be a self-portrait by the artist.
Thought on acquisition to show Lake Rotomahana. Title is from F von Hochstetter's Geology of New Zealand (1864), where this image is reproduced as Plate 8, no.IV (at back of volume). Because of the painting's presence in this book, it was thought to have been executed in the late 1850s, possibly during Hochstetter's visit to New Zealand. However the presence in the Great Exhibition of a watercolour by Heaphy of this subject in 1851, suggests a much earlier visit by Heaphy to the area. There is a very similar watercolour in a private collection in Basel, by descent from Hochstetter. Heaphy may have copied his earlier watercolour and given a copy to Hochstetter to be used for illustrating Geology of New Zealand.
May have been shown at the Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace, London in 1851. In the New Zealand section of the exhibition, lot 27 is an entry from C. Ligar, of a model of of White Island. "Also a drawing of the place, by C.Heaphy" (See exhibition catalogue, p. 1002)
Other Titles - Rotomahana Lake and geyser [former incorrect title]
All Rights Reserved
Alexander Turnbull Library
Whakaari / White Island, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Landscapes & Seascapes