Frances Hodgkins


Frances Hodgkins

Lesson Demonstration, Burford c.1923

Watercolour and pencil, 12 x 18.5 cm
Inscribed on mount Frances Hodgkins (Lesson Demonstration)

To Dorothy Selby, 26 April 1923. Studio, St.Lawrence’s Street, Burford, Oxon.

I shall be most pleased to give you some coaching in the summer, or as soon after May 14th as you like. My Season starts then. My terms are 4 guineas a month a course of 12 demonstration lessons, or I can give you the course in a shorter time if desirable . . .

The Auckland Art Gallery holds a collection of Frances Hodgkins’s sketches, which are unique records of her working method and teaching technique. ‘Lesson Demonstrations’ were Hodgkins’s principal teaching method in her art classes and these works illustrate both the confident fluidity of her brushwork and her keen eye for the nuances of light and colour. Executed rapidly, pencil marks in Lesson Demonstration, Burford are still visible beneath the washes of colour. Hodgkins evidently sketched the significant landmarks in front of her with pencil and then applied swathes of loose, thin paint, which were allowed to bleed and merge in many areas. In transcribing the vista, all attention is given over to capturing the bare essential forms of the landscape and the chromatic variances of the scene so that the work consequently assumes an abstract quality.

Hodgkins first met Jane Saunders and her partner Hannah Ritchie in 1911 at Corncarneau and the following year the pair (pictured below) joined Hodgkins’s art class at St Valery-sur-Somme. Saunders and Ritchie went on to become lifelong friends and supporters of the artist. Hodgkins’s own admiration of Saunders and Ritchie is clearly apparent in the affectionate letters that she wrote to them throughout her life, such as the letter from the 10th of January 1923 that reads:

You are two bricks to slave so hard on my behalf – I am grateful.... to a large extent I have lost my terror – thanks to you - & time I hope will prove that it pays to put me on my legs again & make me a busy useful woman again whose best work is ahead of her. You two girls have had the courage & imagination to do what other richer friends could have done twice over without turning a hair.

Hodgkins was continually supported by friends, such as Saunders and Ritchie, and she regularly received money, food parcels and commentaries on contemporary news and events from them. As a result of their continued friendship with Hodgkins, Saunders and Ritchie acquired a significant collection of her paintings, including some of her best-known works. In later years Saunders and Ritchie made generous donations of Hodgkins’s work to a number of art institutions including the Tate Gallery in London. In testament to her respect and esteem for the pair, Hodgkins painted a portrait of them which is currently held in the Pictorial Collection of the Hocken Library, Dunedin.


Collection of Miss D J (Jane) Saunders and Miss A M (Elizabeth) Shaw.
Thence by descent.