Painting, 'Portrait of Theo Schoon'; McKerchar, Barbara; 1940?; NZC.08.003


Painting, 'Portrait of Theo Schoon'

About this object

Barbara McKerchar painted this portrait of fellow artist Theo Schoon while she was studying at the Canterbury College of Art.

Schoon periodically sat for life drawing classes at the College. On arriving in New Zealand, Schoon expressed his Javanese background in his art, dress and dance. He considered New Zealand somewhat dull and differentiated himself by presenting an exotic and flamboyant persona which Barbara McKerchar captures in this portrait.

Of Schoon’s connection to Javanese culture and dress, Art Historian Damian Skinner writes, “And dancing was a way to conjure out a life no longer available to Schoon: the costumes and poses embodied his Indonesian origins and experiences, creating a small memory of home in a foreign place. Dance also asserted Schoon’s otherness in a monocultural New Zealand with its repressive and adolescent cultural and economic ties to Britain.” Damian Skinner, Theo Schoon (NZ: Massey University Press, 2018), 67.

Artist Biography:
Originally from Hawera, Barbara Thomson (1920-2015) undertook three years of study at the Canterbury University College of Fine Arts from the late 1930s. At the conclusion of her qualification she planned to travel to the United Kingdom to further pursue her art career, however, with the outbreak of World War Two and her marriage to Southlander Stuart McKerchar, this was never to eventuate.

Barbara dedicated her early years to raising her family, but, at the age of 40, after the birth of her last baby, Barbara delved back into art. She used some inheritance to return to study and purchased a crib at Queenstown where she developed a range of painting styles including landscapes, portraits and still life studies in both oil and watercolour.


McKerchar, Barbara

Maker Role


Date Made




Medium and Materials

organic, processed material, vegetal, fibre, flax, linen
organic, processed material, vegetal, wood
inorganic, processed material, pigment, oil paint
inorganic, processed material, synthetic, plastic
inorganic, processed material, metal, alloy, steel (?)

Place Made

Oceania, New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury, Christchurch

Inscription and Marks

Handwritten artist signature lower left corner: 'B McKerchar'.


h 1040 mm x w 840 mm x d 50 mm

Subject and Association Keywords

Art and Design

Subject and Association Keywords

People and Families (including births, weddings, deaths)

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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