0193 Images of the 'Exotic'? Gottfried Lindauer in the Context of European Portraiture

  • Alexandra Karentzos (Author)
    TU Darmstadt

    Alexandra Karentzos, Dr. phil., is Professor of Art History, Fashion and Aesthetics at the Technische Universität Darmstadt in Germany. She was previously Junior Professor of Art History at the University of Trier and Assistant Curator at the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Nationalgalerie Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum of Contemporary Art (both in Berlin). Her research interests cover the art of the nineteenth century to the present, focusing especially on gender and post-colonial issues (irony and postcolonialism, orientalism, gender studies and system theory, construction of body and gender, art and tourism). She was fellow at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA (Research group No Laughing Matter. Visual Humor in Ideas of Race, Nationality, and Ethnicity), guest researcher at the Institute of Art History at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo/Brazil, and fellow at the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald/Germany. She is member of the scientific network “Entangled Histories of Art and Migration: Forms, Visibilities, Agents” funded by the German Research Society (DFG), and Co-founder and member of the board of the Centre for Postcolonial and Gender Studies (CePoG) Trier, and Co-founder and editor of the new magazine for contemporary art and popular culture Querformat. Selected publications: Schlüsselwerke der Postcolonial Studies, Wiesbaden 2012 (co-edited with Julia Reuter); Topologien des Reisens. Tourismus – Imagination – Migration / Topologies of Travel. Tourism – Imagination – Migration, online-publication Trier University 2010 (co-editors Alma-Elisa Kittner, Julia Reuter); Fremde Männer – Other Men, issue of the journal kritische berichte, 4/2007 (co-edited with Sabine Kampmann); Der Orient, die Fremde. Positionen zeitgenössischer Kunst und Literatur, Bielefeld 2006 (co-edited with Regina Göckede); Kunstgöttinnen. Mythische Weiblichkeit zwischen Historismus und Secessionen, Marburg 2005.

Identifiers (Article)


In 1886, twelve of Gottfried Lindauer’s portraits formed part of the presentation of the British colony New Zealand at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London. For the European public, in this context these portraits represented ‘Otherness’, for they were exhibited – and in this way ‘naturalized’ – together with cultural artefacts, members of the indigenous population performing handcrafts, and specimens of nature in greenhouses. The paintings were functionalized into ethnographic-documentary, ‘authentic’ representations of Māori culture. Within this exhibition glorifying colonial power, they were turned into objects displaying British scientific knowledge and prestige. This essay reads Lindauer’s paintings in the context of nineteenth-century European portraiture, a genre where exotic colonial goods and plants were appropriated as luxury items. The resultant constellation marked by exoticizing self-representation in Europe and exoticizing representation of ‘indigenous’ Others reveals the uniqueness of Lindauer’s work, which defies such a schematic classification of exoticization: the portraits were in part commissioned by Māori who wished a pictorial representation of themselves or their relatives. By presenting the Māori nobly as large-sized figures in the portrait genre, Lindauer’s paintings simultaneously offer the scope for various readings.


Colonial and Indian Exhibition, London 1886, Otherness, Exoticization