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Melvin Day paintings gifted to Hamilton

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/10/2016

New Zealand artist Melvin Day, who died in January, has bequeathed 60 paintings to Waikato Museum as a lasting legacy to the city of his birth.

Museum director Cherie Meecham says it's an honour and privilege to receive the extensive collection, which will become part of the institution's permanent collection.

"Hamilton-born Day was a prolific and a radical painter in his time, and his abstract and cubist works have featured in many solo and group exhibitions," she said.

In late 2015, Day decided he would gift the collection, spanning nearly 80 years, to the museum.

Before his wish was realised, he died after a stroke. He was 92.

However, the executors of his estate, helped by his agent, Mark Hutchins-Pond, have amassed the works.

The earliest is a watercolour, Landscape near Waiuku, painted as a 14-year-old student attending classes at the Auckland University School of Fine Arts.

The most recent is an oil canvas of a Fiordland scene, Cascade, produced 70 years later.

Day was the first New Zealander to be accepted and to graduate as a Master of Philosophy from London's Courtauld Institute.

He was appointed the director of the National Art Gallery of New Zealand (now the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) in 1968 and became government art historian in 1978.

Britain's Daily Telegraph, in an obituary, said Day "was celebrated for his colourful palette and fractured compositions, which drew comparisons with the work of Cezanne, Braque and Picasso".

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