Louise Henderson

b. 1902d. 1994

Also known as:

  • Louise Etiennette Sidonie Sauze

Louise Henderson was born in Paris, France, where her father, Daniel Paul Louis Sauze, was secretary to Auguste Rodin. She graduated from l'École de la broderie et dentelle de la ville de Paris in 1921 and, between 1922 and 1925, found work drawing blueprints and writing articles on embroidery design and interior decoration. She also contributed her own embroidery designs to the Belgian journal, La femme et le home.

She met and married New Zealander, Hubert Henderson, in Paris and they moved to Aotearoa, settling in Ōtautahi Christchurch. Returning to study, Henderson attended the Canterbury School of Art graduating with a diploma in 1931. She went on to teach at the School.

Moving to Wellington in the 1940s, Henderson worked at the New Zealand Correspondence School and wrote for Art in New Zealand. Still a champion of embroidery, she was increasingly drawn to modern ideas, such as the cubism. She was particularly inspired by the paintings of John Weeks with whom she corresponded. 

In 1950 the family moved to Auckland where, while working in the studio of John Weeks, her own work became increasingly abstract. She returned to Paris to study for a year with modern artist and theorist, Jean Metzinger. On returning, Auckland City Art Gallery hosted the first of many exhibitions which established Henderson's importance as a modern painter in this country.

In the 1960s she was professionally linked with the abstract painter Milan Mrkusich, for example their collaboration on the Church of the Holy Cross and inclusion in a touring exhibition of New Zealand artists' work sent to Brussels, London and Paris in 1965–66.

In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s Henderson tended toward still-life painting, exploring faceted abstraction in a traditionally cubist manner. She also continued with tapestry work regarding this as important as painting. Her contribution to art was recognised in 1973 by award of a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council fellowship.

Henderson continued to be an active painter well into her eighties, completing a work called 'The Twelve Months' when she was 85. At 91 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, but passed away the following year.

See also:

Louise Henderson, ‘Saint Peter & Saint Paul’ (1960), Church of the Holy Cross, Henderson, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021