PA2007_068a.jpg "Edward F Hemingway". Collection of Puke Ariki (PA2007.068).

Captain Edward F. Hemingway may cut an imposing military figure in this oil painting, but he was defenceless in the face of a young lad's tantrum.

Trading on his blue-blood English upbringing and military efficiency, Edward forged a colourful army career serving in the Crimean War in 1855, before joining the hostilities in Taranaki during 1865. When he returned to Europe a few years later, Edward's swashbuckling lifestyle – dominated by hunting and gentleman's clubs – squandered most of the family fortune. With his college fund gone, Edward's son Ned left England for Pātea to start a new life. In an effort to stem his father's continued extravagant spending, Ned eventually forced Edward to move to New Zealand as well. Edward never forgave Ned for this and he died in 1914 still resenting his reduced means.

Perhaps Edward's ill will rubbed off on his grandson Harold who, some years later, attacked this formerly full-length portrait in a fit of youthful rage as it hung in Ned's Pātea home. The lower portion of the painting was ruined and the battered bust had to be separated from the damaged canvas. Recent professional conservation has further minimised the marks of a foul temper and years of family drama.

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