Magna Carta


A. Lois White



  • Mural


  • Oil paint
  • Wood


  • W3190 x H2230mm

A. Lois White, ‘Magna Carta Mural’ (1951), Refectory, Southwell School, Kirikiriroa Hamilton

Images: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2022


"The subject matter of the mural was the Signing of Magna Carta. Miss White did a year's research on the project and made 100 preliminary sketches, finally doing the actual painting in her own studio on a huge piece of six-ply, 10ft x 12ft. The work is set in a wall of grey brick. This brick is a specialty of Southwell School as the boys make the bricks themselves and their beautiful creeper-covered chapel was constructed with them. The pageantry and richness of colour in the mural conforms with strict historical accuracy. For instance, King John, surprisingly enough, is not a dark saturnine individual, as one usually visualises him, but is of reddish colouring and of a burly build. Actually he did resemble his uncle, William Rufus. Lavender, gold and crimson complement each other in the heraldic canopy, the cloth on the table and the surcoats of the nobles, while the personal banners of the barons who are known to have been present at the signing are authentic. The portraiture of Archbishop Langton's face is really remarkable." (The Weekly News, June 2, 1954, p.5)

An information panel next to the work in situ reads:

'Magna Carta Mural'

"This mural hangs in the Southwell School dining room above the fireplace. / When Elam School of Art was burned down in the early 50’s, the admirers of their work sympathised with the artists who had lost so much. Dr and Mrs E.T. Rogers of Hamilton decided to help them by commissioning them to paint a mural representing a subject which would interest young people. Eventually Miss Lois White was selected as the artist to undertake this colossal task and the subject was to be the signing of the Magna Carta. / After two years work in research and more than two hundred preliminary drawings that task was completed.
In 1953 Dr and Mrs Rogers made the gift of the Magna Carta to the Headmaster as a token of what Southwell is doing for so many boys. / The mural remains a valuable asset for Southwell School."

Source: Southwell Room School Magazines 1952