“SS Theodore”, a rare ship portrait by Christopher Aubrey ,1885 500mm x 330mm
built by Asher Smith
for Theo Russell & Capt Hedditch
who was skipper
Tom Creig was engineer
He gave this painting to Sam McSkimming
when Sam McSkimming and his familly
left Pembroke to go to Arrowtown in 1900
The only reliable biographical information concerning Christopher Aubrey is provided by his signed and dated works.He came from Stewart Island to Riverton in 1879, and in that year painted around Riverton and the Orepuki area. In 1881 he painted his way up the Aparima River.He was one of the guests at the Fairfax Hotel in January 1891, on the night when it burned down.
He was known to have been in Otago and Southland in the 1870s and to have stayed on back country stations in the 1880s. When he was in country houses near Riverton he often left sketches there in return for hospitality received. He seems to have moved from Dunedin (1876), south to the Taieri Plains and Milton (1877), the lower Clutha valley (1877-78) and Southland (1878-84), before travelling into more spectacular regions (Fiordland, Lake Wakatipu, Lake Wanaka) and moving north to Canterbury (1885) and North Otago (1886). The last South Island subjects known before he crossed to the North Island are views of Dunedin (1887) and the Fox Glacier (1888).
Subsequently he worked in Wellington and the Hutt Valley (1889-90), the Wairarapa (1891), Palmerston North (1893), Wanganui (1894), the Waikato and the Coromandel (1897) and Auckland (1898-1900). The latest dated work to which any reference has been found is a 1902 view of Dunedin.
The only contemporary documentary record appears in the catalogues and report of the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880-81 where he is listed as living in Invercargill.
The measure of control which he displays in architectural subjects and details as early as 1878 - particularly in contrast to figures and animals - suggests some training and experience in engineering or another technical field, but the numerous views of hotels and farmhouses suggest also an itinerant life, perhaps earning a living by his brush. This supposition finds slight confirmation in the absence of his name in electoral rolls and street directories of the period.
Christopher Aubrey is represented in major collections throughout the country including the Auckland City Art Gallery and the Turnbull and Hocken Libraries.
The first steam driven vessel on Lake Wanaka, built in 1881 by Asher Smith, an American sea captain , the THEODORE, was named for Theodore Russell, co-founder of Pembroke, who died in 1877, and who had dreamed of a steamer service on the lake.
Built from local timber, she weighed 35 tons nett, was 67 ft long and had a beam of 16.4 ft. The hull was flat bottomed and she had almost no sheer. The engine room occupied a large amount of deck space, with the top used as a promenade deck measuring 24 ft by 16 ft. Her owner and skipper Elijah Charlton Hedditch made a 2-day trip round the lake each week with shorter trips for tourists. She sank alongside the Pembroke jetty in 1891. After being raised, repaired, and under the new ownership of Robert McDougall from 1892, Laid up in 1896 for complete overhaul and virtual rebuilding. Re-launched 7 January 1897 with name changed to WANAKA. Continued to offer a passenger service on the lake till laid up about 1910.