A special piece of artwork was gifted to the Rotorua Museum today on behalf of the artist's family.

Megan McIndoe, the daughter of artist Zoe Ireland, gifted a rare portrait of artist Theo Schoon.

It was painted by Ireland in 1982 and is a valuable addition to the growing collection of Ireland's work already held at the museum. As well as Ireland's works, the museum has a substantial collection of works by Theo Schoon providing added significance to the generous donation.

"Zoe did numerous portraits for commissions, family, and friends," said Ms McIndoe.

"Rotorua Museum was the right place for it to come. We knew the museum had a significant collection of works by Theo Schoon, the connection with John Perry as former director and the fact that she was a Rotorua artist... so it should come back to Rotorua," she said.

At the time the work was painted Schoon had just returned to New Zealand from Australia and was staying in Rotorua with former Rotorua Museum director John Perry, who was instrumental in facilitating the portrait sitting.

"Zoe Ireland was one of a small group of professional artists living in Rotorua in the early 80s. It is a very fine painting of one of New Zealand's most significant artists," said Mr Perry.


"This portrait of Schoon is not only rare but is of major significance in terms of New Zealand's art history," he said.

As artists, Theo Schoon and Zoe Ireland were both active participants in the development of a local modernist aesthetic in Rotorua during the mid-20th century.

Landscape and still-life works feature prominently in the museum's current holding of Ireland's work but until now there was only one other portrait - a personal study of Ireland's Rotorua neighbour Phyllis Flemwell.