Fred. B. SCHELL, an American artist, in South Canterbury, N.Z. in 1887

Frederic B. Schell was born in Philadelphia in 1838 and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1862 Fred B. Schell became a Special Artist for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, a New York newspaper. In 1863, Frank Leslie assigned him to General Ulysses S. Grant’s army at Vicksburg. Grant was a U.S. general and commander of the Union armies during the late years of the American Civil War. Schell's work is well known in the States. Fred was brought out to New Zealand to produce views for Garran's THE PICTURESQUE ATLAS OF AUSTRALASIA. This three volume set was made to mark 100 years of Australia’s settlement. He was active in Australia and New Zealand from 1886-1889. Died in the States in 1902, New York. Mr. and Mrs. Frederic B. Schell, Jr. in 1992 donated Fred's work to the Akron Art Museum, Ohio, including a beautiful watercolour painting Mt. Cook, Hooker River after a storm.  Inscribed in pencil, LR, "Mt. Cook/ Hooker River after a storm/ Mar. 25/87". Inscribed on reverse in pen, "33". Watercolors such as this one were on-site studies, which would later be translated into wood engravings to illustrate volumes for armchair travelers. Volume II is online and contains the South Canterbury etchings. Frederic Boley Schell Jr. died 1 September 1993 Sarasota, Florida.

Schell, Frederick B. Battle Unit Name: 19th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry (3 months, 1861). Side: Union. Company: C. Soldier's Rank In: Private. Soldier's Rank Out: Private. This regiment was organized at Philadelphia and mustered April 27, 1861. It mustered out August 29, 1861.

            
Breakwater, Timaru, Lake Pukaki, Hooker Valley, avalanche,  Mt Cook ranger, Mt. Cook, Ascent of the Hochstetter Dome, the Hooker River 25 March 1887.

Ascent of the Hochstetter Dome [March 1883]. [Drawn by] F. Schell [Melbourne, Picturesque Atlas Publishing Company, 1886]. The ascent was made on 27 March 1883 by Robert and Anne von Lendenfeld, with Harry Dew, a New Zealand porter. The picture is based on a drawing by von Lendenfeld - compare a similar drawing by von Lendenfeld of the sun setting from the summit of the Dome in PA1-f-081, p.1 ATL.

Lake Tekapo with the Lake Tekapo Station homestead. Can you name the peaks? Lake Tekapo, view from Cowan's Hill now obscured by the trees. The etching was almost definitely done from Cowan's Hill of course things have changed a lot over the years the trees of course were not there when this was done. Photographs taken July 2015 from where the artist would have sat in March 1887 and a couple of others from further up Cowan's to show the actual near same mountain vista that is in this picture. In the artists picture from right to left Mt Erebus, then the Godley Valley, Godley Peaks/The Mistake, Middle Gorge, Hells Gates, and the Cass Valley then there should be Mt Stephens, Mt John. Leading to the Left again the Main Divide. Mt John is not all that accurate. Above Middle Gorge is what looks like to me the artist has put what looks like Tasman and Cook they are not visible from this area. Cook is visible but only the very top from Half way up the lake on the eastern side and situated at the Head of the Cass Valley not Middle Gorge.
    The foreground is now known as the Lake Tekapo Regional Park as a 12 year old boy George helped each Arbor Day to plant Radiata Pine as the area was very sandy and barren. Tekapo Station as it was known in this picture is fairly accurate with the Homestead on the small peninsular with a small causeway on the main land foreground can be seen yards and there was a woolshed. Cook shop, dip and a few other small buildings and remains of most of these buildings were still there in the mid 50s just after the Lake was raised. In the photograph George took this morning of the Mountain Vista (156) from the top of Cowan's Hill from right to left, Mt Erebus, Godley Valley, The Mistake, Middle Gorge, Hells Gates, Cass Valley, Mt John, and Mt Stephens behind. As you can see below there are now a lot of trees. In (165) the lake is very low at the moment, 705.0 m, 25 July 2015, and you can see the small peninsular still there which had the Tekapo Station Homestead on it. In (149) with the highway now just like in that picture this would not be far from where the artist sat, of course minus the trees. Photos and info courtesy of George Empson, 25 July 2015.  In 2009 the consented minimum control level for Lake Tekapo [pdf] is 701.8 m. However, from 1 October to the following 31 March the effective minimum control level is 704.1m.

 
Photo taken in front of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Nov. 2009 by G.W.

Where is this location? Mackenzie Plains and coach of five. That image is really hard to pick, especially when so many artistic liberties have been taken. Apart from Cook sort of looking like Cook, the rest don't even really look as they should. But I think what really throws things out is the front ranges, which I can't place from any position! I guess the best bet is the Braemar area?
a. I would be pretty sure this has been done from where the main road, SH8, now crosses the Irishman's Creek, 15 km from Tekapo, 42 km from Twizel. Why ! Because I can pick out the gap in the Old Man where it cuts through then appears to show Mt. Stevenson slightly right of a line to Mt Cook. The horse and carriage also add to my belief. D.M. July 2015

Past Balmoral station, across the Fork Stream, Irishman's Creek, and the Mary burn we go, through Simon's Pass and Dover Pass, and then, shortly after one o'clock, we sight Lake Pukaki.

b. The Braemar Road right through to the homestead also looks the probable location, but not too near the lake for obvious reasons. As there is a stage coach in the picture it’s the only one that fits...there is no other road nor ever was other than Braemar. Drawn by Fred. B. Schell.  I see sheep that have been shorn so probably a November scene but Schell arrived in Otago in March 1887 he was up at Mt. Cook on 25 March 1887 so could be March 1887 but the sheep don't look like woollies. The coach is heading back to Fairlie. At a quick glance from right to left looks like Tasman, Cook, La Perouse, not sure on middle peak, then Footstool, Sefton with the Sealy Range to the left and taken from roughly the Braemar Rd, area heading to Lake Pukaki. Sefton, is the 4th highest peak in the Southern Alps, not quite right but going by the rest I would say that is the area. Samuel Butler described the peak in 1860. "It rose towering in a massy parallelogram, far above all the others. It is well worth any amount of climbing to see. No one can mistake it. The moment it comes into sight the exclamation is, 'That is Mount Cook!' - not 'That must be Mount Cook!'  The Mount Cook Coaching Service began in 1886 after a syndicate of businessmen had built Mount Cook's first "Hermitage Hotel" appointing Mr. F. Huddleston as its manager. Some four years later the enterprise was taken over by E. Rutherford and the brothers Rhodes who also held a mail contract for the district. The firm ran a local tourist brake carriage which carried 12 passengers on scenic tours around the Mt. Cook area. They also had several horse teams; a three horse, a four-in-hand, a 'pick-axe' team of five horses and a carriage and six-in-hand. The sketch shows a three horse team but maybe it is a five, with two horses in the back. Point to Mt. Cook in 1888. The Fork Stream cutting is on the Braemar Road.

Timaru Herald, 16 July 1885, Page 8
On the 13th (Saturday) left Tekapo hotel on our way to Mount Cook by Pukaki Ferry, passing Balmoral station four miles from the ferry, while eight miles further on we passed the Wolds and Irishman Creek stations. Ten miles more and we arrived at Simon's Pass about 12 p.m., and were kindly invited to dinner by Mr Matheson. After dinner we started for Pukaki. A four miles drive brought us to Dover's Pass, after going through which we came in view of Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook in the distance. It was a clear day, and we considered it one of the most beautiful views of the Mackenzie country. Arrived at Pukaki Ferry, which is four miles from Dover's Pass, at 4.30 p.m. We cannot congratulate the Mackenzie County Council on the condition of that part of the road between Simon's Pass and Pukaki Ferry. If they would only take the rocks off the road it would make it great deal better for travellers. It is at present a splendid one for wheelwrights and blacksmiths. No doubt there will be an alteration before next season. Mr W. Lowe and Miss Lowe made us very comfortable at Pukaki on Sunday.


    From the Braemar Rd.

Samuel Butler said in 1860 "Scenery is not Scenery - it is "Country" - if it is good for sheep, it is beautiful, magnificent and all the rest of it; if not, it is not worth looking at."

Schell was in Auckland in 1886.

Otago Witness, 4 March 1887, Page 9
Mr F. B. Schell, who has charge of the art department of "Picturesque Australasia" — a work which is in course of preparation by the Picturesque Atlas Company of Philadelphia — arrived in Dunedin by the Wairarapa on Tuesday, and has commenced work on the sketches of this part of the colony which it is intended to reproduce in the work. Mr Schell will make a complete tour of the colony, and will take a large number of sketches, it being the intention of the publishers to give New Zealand illustrations a large share of the book. One of the principal artists (Mr Schell) is now engaged in taking sketches in Dunedin and vicinity.

Evening Post, 20 April 1887, Page 2
Frederic B. Schell, of Philadelphia, the manager of the art department of the of the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia, arrived in Auckland on Friday, by the Rotorua, via West Coast, for the purpose of sketching the features of interest in and about Auckland. Mr Schell has already spent several months in New Zealand, and visited all points of interest in the South Island, including the West Coast Sounds, the Lake District, Mount Cook, Dunedin and Christchurch. Mr Schell reached Wellington from Christchurch via the West Coast road to Hokitika through the famous Otira Gorge, via Greymouth, Westport, and the goldmining regions in the vicinity of Reefton, thence via the Buller Valley to Nelson, The publishers of Picturesque Australasia are fully impressed with the importance of New Zealand and its pictorial capabilities, and it is their intention to devote a large portion of the work to thorough illustration of this colony. he company has already expended but from the large list of subscribers the success of the Atlas is already assured.

A Picturesque atlas of Australasia, three volumes, published in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Springfield, Mass., Picturesque Atlas Publishing Co., 1886-1889. Edited by Andrew Garran; illustrated under the supervision of Frederic B. Schell, assisted by leading colonial and American artists.  Historical review of New Zealand / by R.A.A. Sherrin. Descriptive sketch of New Zealand / by J.M. Geddis: p. 987-1210, v. 3. It was conceived and financed by American publishers under the name of the Picturesque Atlas Publishing Co Limited, Sydney and Melbourne. It's ambitious aims of using the best artists, the best paper, the finest printing engraving techniques and for it to be the most comprehensive survey of Australia's colonial history ensured that it inevitably was doomed to be a financial failure. 

New Zealand Herald, 3 May 1887, Page 4
A large and handsome book now being published in Sydney, by an American company, entitled "A Picturesque Atlas of Australasia." It is being published in parts at 5s each, and got up in the best style of the printer's and engraver's art. To produce the work the requisite printing machinery, a staff of twelve first-class engravers, artists who have been engaged upon the best works turned out in America, together with staff of painters, etc., were obtained from America, and have been for some, time engaged upon the work they have undertaken. The numbers produced are ample testimony of the class of book which this Atlas will be when completed. Mr. Frederic B. Schell, artist, is at present in Auckland on a sketching tour for this work. Mr. Schell is the manager of the art department. He has been for some time in the South Island, and is well pleased with the scenery he has already witnessed. He states that though New Zealand is among the smallest of the colonies which will be illustrated in the work now in progress, is likely to have considerably more than its full share of the illustrations when the work is completed. The Australian scenery is tame compared with what Mr. Schell has viewed in New Zealand. 

Hawke's Bay Herald, 23 October 1888, Page 3
As Mr Schell says, "It would nowadays be an absurdity for a publisher to appeal to the people through the pages of a periodical without illustrations."

     
Timaru Breakwater

Auckland Star, 17 August 1887, Page 2 "THE PICTURESQUE ATLAS OF AUSTRALASIA."
This is the title of the most superb and voluminous work that has ever been projected in connection with the Australasian colonies. It is a most costly and pretentious project, upward of L60,000 having been already expended upon it, and the services of the very best men having been secured for its various departments. It is being issued in monthly parts of imperial folio size, and is printed upon thick glazed paper in the most elegant style of typographical art, while its illustrations (engravings in wood from sketches made on the spot) are so profuse that there is scarcely a page, without one, and many pages contain several of them. The work is being edited by Andrew Garran, M.A., LLD;. the Art Department is under the direction of F. B. Schell, of Philadelphia, U.S., assisted by a corps of colonial artists; the engraving is being done by Horace Baker (late of New York) and George F. Andrew of Boston, while the topographical department is in the able hands of D. MacDonald, C.E., M.G.S.A. Twelve monthly numbers have so far been issued to the subscribers, the price being 5s each, so that this magnificent work is placed within the reach of the humblest. It will be a veritable encyclopaedia of information with respect to New South Wales, Victoria, New Zealand, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, Fiji, New Guinea, and Melanesia. The first nine numbers deal exhaustively with New South Wales, both from a literary and from a pictorial point of view. The letterpress is further supplemented by maps of a political, topographical, and more strictly scientific character.

Timaru Herald, 6 July 1887
Unclaimed letters await the following persons at the Post Office Timaru: F. Schell

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Artist: Unknown
New Zealand 1878-1882
Album of 359 albumen photographs
Sheet: 36 x 27 cm (14 3/16 x 10 5/8 in.) (each)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick B. Schell, Jr. in 1976
Culture: New Zealand
Period: 19th century
Classification: Works on Paper - Manuscripts and documents
Status: By appointment

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project