Henry Edward Partridge was one of artist Gottfried Lindauer’s earliest and most dedicated patrons, having amassed a collection of more than 70 paintings by Lindauer, later known as the Partridge Collection.
Partridge was born in London and at ten years old began working ten hours per day, six days per week in a cocoa factory. In 1861 aged 13, he joined the British Navy, though his naval career soon ended when he was injured in service.
Partridge continued his seafaring career by crewing merchant ships working the tea trading route between London and China. He sailed to Australia attracted by the gold rush there but soon sailed for the goldfields in Buller and Otago in the South Island. After a very cold fruitless winter’s search for gold, he arrived in Auckland at the end of 1868, where he met his wife Miriam Antoinette Odlum.
Henry then moved to Thames to go gold mining, making friends with James Mackay, the government agent in the Waikato. He accompanied Mackay to Maori settlements becoming interested in Maori culture and customs. Back in Auckland he established a very successful business selling tobacco in Queen Street, and later merging his firm Messrs H E Partridge and Company, general merchants, with WD & HO Wills (NZ) Ltd in 1919.
He met the painter Gottfried Lindauer in 1874 and purchased four works commemorating the older generation of Maori and their professional relationship lasted almost 40 years.
By 1888 the family were living in a home in Grafton which overlooked the Auckland Domain. The home was known as ‘Aropiri’ and Partridge lived in it until his death in 1931. He exhibited his love of collecting at the house and initially displayed the Collection there as well as many foreign curiosities.
Between 1901 and 1912 Henry Partridge exhibited his Lindauer collection – initially 37 portraits and one representation of a Maori rite, ‘The tohunga under tapu’ – in a gallery above his shop in Queen Street. In 1913, the Partridge Collection, now enlarged to 62 portraits and eight other works, was loaned to the Auckland Art Gallery.
Three years later Partridge gifted the collection to the gallery on condition that 10,000 pounds be raised for the relief of Belgian war refugees. Partridge supported this cause as he had been in Europe at the outbreak of WW 1 and greatly admired the Belgian stand against the German forces. Over 60,000 pounds was raised for the Belgian Relief Fund by June 1915.
He was buried at Purewa Cemetery in Block A, Row 7, Plot 68B. .
Henry Edward PARTRIDGE
Block A, Row 7, Plot 68B