Augustus Koch: Mapmaker
by Rolf W Brednich (Steele Roberts, $99.99)
Reviewed by Simon Nathan
Apart from a brief entry in Una Platts’ Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists, little has been written about Augustus Koch. I had heard of him as the artist who accompanied Ferdinand Hochstetter on his epic explorations of the central North Island in 1859, but few of his illustrations seemed to have survived. With Augustus Koch – Mapmaker, Rolf Brednich has put him back in the historical record with a thoroughly-researched biography, illustrated by a selection of Koch’s cartoons, drawings and maps.
The basic outlines of Koch’s life come from two autobiographical manuscripts, written for his family, that are now held in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Born into a middle class German family, he studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Berlin. His student years coincided with widespread political upheavals, and during the riots in 1848 he defended the barricades against the Prussian army. His cartoons, published in revolutionary news sheets, brought him to the notice of the authorities.