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Frances Hodgkins

Study of a Sudanese, 1903

Watercolour, 35.5 x 25.5 cm
Signed FH & dated '03 lower right


To Dorothy Richmond, 3 December 1902. Hotel Bristol, Tangier.

Salaams from Morocco! We’ve arrived…………. Heavens! how beautiful it is! Why aren’t you here you foolish and misguided woman… I am never going back to New Zealand – I am going to turn Moslem – I am going to wear a haik – I am going to lie on a divan for the rest of my days with a handmaiden called Fatima to wait on me….

In late 1902 Frances Hodgkins travelled to Morocco, accompanied by her friend Mrs Ashington, whom she had met at a summer sketching school in Caudebec. The trip can be seen as a continuation of her search for exotic subject matter, and in the old Moorish walled town of Tangier she was able to respond to the effects of sunlight, captured en plein air. In choosing to go to North Africa Hodgkins was following a path well-worn by English and French artists – including Delacroix, in 1832 – drawn by a romantic hankering for the exotic and the vogue for Orientalism.

In a letter to Dorothy Richmond, Hodgkins described the arrival at the port of Tangier:

Directly the boat stopped – some way from the landing pier – a thousand or so Moors hurled themselves on deck & began fighting violently over our baggage – some of them such magnificent looking men, bronze giants, others wizened up, wicked looking little brigands and a few coal black Nubians with plunging eyes.

In addition to the architecture and the market places of the city, Hodgkins was attracted by the dark skin and flowing garments of the local people. She told Dorothy Richmond of one of her models, a ‘ducky little Arab girl who we captured & painted in an aloe grove’, and who agreed to return the next day.

The sitter for the 1903 watercolour Study of a Sudanese has been identified as Absolom, Mrs Ashington’s Arab guide. Hodgkins informed Richmond that ‘Absolom the trustworthy’ was their main source of Tangier gossip; ‘he knows everything, and what he doesn’t know he guesses at.' His knowledge of Tangier proved invaluable, while he also dispersed crowds of curious onlookers when Hodgkins and her companion painted in the market place, and shielded them from the Moroccan sun with an umbrella. In her portrait, strong sunlight falls directly on the faithful Absolom, whose eyes are downcast. Bold strokes of fluid colour flesh out the background, while the details of his garments are merely hinted at under the glare of the sun, all serving to draw attention to the face and the sitter’s dark brown skin.

On the boat to Tangier, Hodgkins encountered wealthy friends from Dunedin, David and Marie Theomin. Patrons of the arts and admirers of Hodgkins’ work, they commissioned a watercolour, Orange Sellers, Tangier (collection of Theomin Gallery, Olveston, Dunedin). In this market place scene the intensity of the sunlight has reduced a foreground display of fruit and vegetables to mere blobs of colour, in contrast to the shimmering whiteness which distinguish other areas of the composition. Here Hodgkins sought a general effect, the unique atmosphere of a street market, whereas Study of a Sudanese captured the character of an individual.

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Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

Wellington, N.Z. McGregor Wright Art Gallery. February 1904 (No.18)

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016
 

Literature

Ascent. Frances Hodgkins, Commemorative Issue (Caxton Press with QE II Arts Council, Christchurch 1969) p. 14

Roger Collins and Iain Buchanan, Frances Hodgkins on Display 1890 – 1950 (Hocken Library 2000) p. 35

E.H McCormick, Portrait of Frances Hodgkins (Auckland University Press 1981) p. 51

I Buchanan, E Eastmond and M Dunn, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press 2001) p. 18

Provenance

Collection: Mrs R D Todd

Private Collection, Auckland
 

Illustrated

E.H. McCormick, Portrait of Frances Hodgkins (Auckland 1981) p. 47

Frances Hodgkins 1869 – 1947, Queen Elizabeth Arts Council of New Zealand (Auckland 1969) No. 6

E.H. McCormick, Works of Frances Hodgkins in New Zealand (Auckland 1954) plate 15

E. H. McCormick, The Path to Impressionism (Art New Zealand #16, Auckland 1980) p. 31


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Frances Hodgkins

Boys Fishing c. 1907/8

Watercolour, 26 x 36 cm
Signed FH lower right
Inscribed verso: “Miss Thorpe”


Boys Fishing is most likely to have been completed by Frances Hodgkins during her stay in Holland between 1907-1908. At the turn of the twentieth century, Holland, like Concarneau in Brittany, remained a popular location among artists who praised its rusticated purity that was seen to be an oasis amid the oppressive nature of British and French industrialisation. The opportunity to paint figures in traditional dress was a further attraction and one that is seen in this painting. The scene features one of the young boys fishing off a bridge while his two friends watch closely. All three young boys are attired in caps and clogs, which references Hodgkins’ interest in the work of Stanhope Forbes (1857 – 1947) who often painted village scenes complete with similar picturesque detailing.

Hodgkins’ interest in Impressionism is demonstrated in this painting through the use of a subdued, sombre light that washes over the scene, blending and merging forms to produce an indeterminate foreground. The focus on the atmospheric quality of the scene works to unite this painting with the other works that Hodgkins’ completed in Holland, namely The Bridge (c.1907, Private Collection) and Dordrecht (c.1908, Dunedin Public Art Gallery). These three outdoor scenes feature small figure groups attired in traditional Dutch costume and are executed with a loose, fluid line and colder colours.

The inscription on the back of this painting “Miss Thorpe,” is thought to refer to Hodgkins’ pupil in Dordrecht, Teresa Thorpe, the ‘congenial and specially selected companion’ with whom Hodgkins travelled to Paris in November 1908.

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Written by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: Watercolours from Europe. 2008
 

Literature

Frances Hodgkins: Watercolours from Europe, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2008), p. 11

Provenance

Private collection, Montfort-l’Amaury, France


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Frances Hodgkins

Cassis Quarryman and Wife c. 1921

Black chalk, 32 x 45 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower centre & titled Cassis Quarryman and Wife verso


To Rachel Hodgkins, 21 December 1920. Cassis, nr. Marseilles, France.

The place (Cassis) is off the beaten track, not very far from Marseilles, on the coast, much frequented by artists on account of the landscape…Winston Churchill his wife and suite have been here lately, he for a fortnights painting.

After leaving New Zealand in 1901, the first group of monochromatic works that appear in Hodgkins’s oeuvre are related to Cassis, where she spent six weeks during the winter of 1920-21. Hodgkins’s drawings from this period were completed in black chalk and were of uniform size. Two examples of her chalk drawings are currently held in public galleries; Cassis c.1920 - 1930 in the Auckland City Art Gallery and Landscape in the South of France in the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester.

Frances Hodgkins left England for France in 1920. On her arrival, she immersed herself in the local culture, enjoying the fine French food and wine. After a week of relaxation she moved south to the small town of Cassis, in the hope of meeting up with close friends, Cedric Morris and Lett Haines. Arriving in the small fishing port, Hodgkins discovered that they had already departed, but the magnificent amphitheatre created by the hills surrounding Cassis drew her in, and she decided to stay. By chance, Hodgkins met a fellow New Zealander, Jean Campbell, and joined her on her vineyard, Fontcreuse. There she enjoyed daily walks over the rugged hills of the region and sketched constantly as she went. This, Hodgkins realised, was Cézanne country - a challenge that she met in a series of black chalk drawings, which are notable for their boldness and strength of design - in what was for her, a new medium.

Hodgkins’s chalk works express her assuredness in her own skill and reveal an element of experimentation in terms of both subject matter and form. Hodgkins intended her chalk drawings to not be just picturesque examples of the local landscape and people, but to be autonomous artworks that would also serve as inspiration for larger paintings. They were undoubtedly popular and the present drawing, Cassis Quarryman and Wife c. 1921, bares a strikingly close resemblance to her later work, Spanish Husband and Wife c.1925. Hodgkins hoped to sell the set of chalk drawings in London, writing to her mother Rachel on the 4th of February 1921 to say that she was:

…sending off my Cassis set of drawings to Mr Frank Rutter to see if he can arrange to show them in London…

Cassis Quarryman and Wife is executed with a paucity of line that underscores Hodgkins’s masterful draughtsmanship. In the present work and the related piece, Spanish Husband and Wife, held in the Auckland Art Gallery, Hodgkins utilises the chequered patterning of the fabric to draw attention to the female figures and to provide a central anchor for the composition. The use of bold patches of shading works to accentuate the landscape of the faces while Hodgkins’s ability to indicate spatial recession by hinting at the layering of the couple is testament to her skill and understanding of the fundamentals of the drawing practice.

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Written by Grace Alty & Jonathan Gooderham
Edited by Jemma Field


Literature

Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2012), p. 11

Provenance

Karl Hagedorn RBA, NEAC (1889-1969)

Private collection, Somerset, UK.


Frances Hodgkins

 
 

Frances Hodgkins

Still Life, Arrangement of Jugs c.1937

Watercolour & gouache, 46 x 61 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower right


To Ree Gorer, 23 July 1937. Sea View, Worth Matravers, Dorset.

My fate has fixed me in Worth. I hope you & Geoffrey will come here one day when I get fixed properly. Rather than continue a homeless wanderer I am settling down here in a somewhat negative mood, neither liking nor disliking the place, but thankful to have it & call it home.

Frances Hodgkins spent much of 1936 and 1937 in what Joanne Drayton describes as 'an itinerant whirl'. After taking a studio in Hampstead for a period she travelled to Wales, then moved to Dorset and spent Christmas 1937 in Wiltshire. It was around 1937 that she produced the watercolour Arrangement of Jugs, which can be seen to have its origins in the still life compositions painted earlier that decade. The Green Urn (private collection, New Zealand), and Cut Melons (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa), both c.1931, juxtapose various vessels with fruit, producing unconventional still-life arrangements which merge with the landscape. Hodgkins' use of the jug motif goes back to 1931, at least, as in the oil painting Red Jug in the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki (which also has an undated pencil drawing, Jug). Here the dominating jug is placed in front of a strangely spartan landscape relieved by a single barren tree, the overall effect being somewhat surrealistic and evoking what Drayton identifies as a sense of quiet and unease.

A drawing from around 1937, Arrangement of Jugs (private collection, UK), predates the 1938 lithograph of the same name, and has elements in common with it and a circa 1937 watercolour, Still Life (also private collection, UK). It includes, for example, the staggered pair of modernist glass vases with the watercolour, and the lamp with the lithograph. Obviously experimental, it is more fluid than the two images that followed, and the various elements appear to float freely in space, untethered to a horizontal plane.

Hodgkins' circa 1937 watercolour Arrangement of Jugs can be seen as an extension of her approach to the depiction of colour and form. The individual elements have undergone extreme simplification, and are defined by varying degrees of outlining and bright splashes of colour. There is minimal overlapping of the objects, and their positioning on an undefined surface provides a modest sense of depth to the composition. Despite the title, only one of the seven individual elements is a jug. It is accompanied here by two (yellow) round ceramic vases and a pair of rectangular modernist glass vases, the larger of which contains sprigs of plants. There is an absolute economy of means throughout, with pigment used sparingly to define the objects and, in the case of the two yellow vases, their applied decoration.

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Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

London, U.K. Gillian Jason Gallery, A Tribute to Frances Hodgkins. November - December 1987

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016

 

Literature

Richard Wolfe and Jonathan Gooderham, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist (Jonathan Grant Gallery) p. 13-14

Provenance

Gillian Jason Gallery, London.

 

Illustrated

Richard Wolfe and Jonathan Gooderham, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist (Jonathan Grant Gallery) p. 14


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Frances Hodgkins

River Tone, Somerset c.1939

Watercolour & gouache on paper, 53.5 x 37.5 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower left


To William Hodgkins, 26 May 1940. The Croft, Bradford-on-Tone, Taunton, Somerset.

I have moved over here to the Croft from Corfe Castle not because it is any safer. No place is safe but it is rather more away from it all than on the S. coast where the coastal gunfire rattled my big studio windows – very worrying. Geoffrey gave me the use of the Croft for the summer & I shall stay here so long as the Gov: doesn’t fill it up with evacuees . . . I have dispensed with the Housekeeper & am doing my own work & cooking in a sort of a fashion . . .

In the summer of 1934 Frances Hodgkins gave up her Hampstead studio to spend time in Cornwall, and then Somerset, where she was offered the use of a cottage owned by anthropologist and writer Geoffrey Gorer. In a letter to Duncan Macdonald, director of Lefevre Gallery, she explained that having the use of The Croft was ‘a godsend’, and that she had been having a difficult time with the ‘unresponsive English landscape’. A week or so later, in another letter to Macdonald she admitted:

I have been eaten alive by the too tedious character of this country – so backless – formless. Doubtless there is a right spot if only I could strike it –

Hodgkins returned to The Croft in the summer of 1939. These were ‘dark days’, and she sought to escape the coastal gunfire that had regularly rattled the windows of her previous studio at Corfe Castle. In a letter to Geoffrey Gorer she described the garden at his cottage as ‘so pleasant … scented & radiant’, and that she was eating her way ‘locust like’ through produce from the garden’.

From 1938 to around 1940 the bulk of Hodgkins' work was mainly landscape-orientated, and included this painting of the River Tone in Somerset, one of several on the subject. It was executed in watercolour and gouache, the latter being an opaque and fast-drying medium that needed to be applied quickly and confidently as it provided little opportunity for alteration. Further to the fluidity of the brushstrokes, Hodgkins' highly personalised interpretation of the Tone is distinguished by large areas of dark brown which contrast with the smaller and lighter patches of yellow, green, pink and blue.

During her first (1934) stay at The Croft Hodgkins explained her working method to Duncan Macdonald:

I go out into the fields every day, among the red cattle, strike an attitude and paint a composite picture - a sort of wish fulfilment of a picture.

River Tone, Somerset represents a significant and substantial development in Hodgkins’ career, illustrating her shift from representation to abstraction. Her earlier interest in Impressionism had now given way to an appreciation of Modernism, evident in the new economy of form and the flattening of the picture plane. The dynamically- executed elements – the foreground river and a scattering of frost (or snow) on the ground beyond, and a house (probably The Croft) among the calligraphic trees - are here drawn together in a harmonious whole. Hodgkins demonstrates her mastery of colour and form, and it was recognition of her highly personalised and idiosyncratic vision that led to her selection to represent Britain at the 1940 Venice Biennale (unfortunately the exhibition was cancelled with the onset of World War II).

The present painting was included in a selection of recent works in oil and gouache shown at the Leicester Galleries in October 1941. Whereas the review in The Times credited Hodgkins with achieving ‘rich and strong colours’ but considered the general impression to be ‘one of confusion’, The Spectator considered the exhibition ‘an event of importance.’

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Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

London, U.K. Leicester Galleries, Paintings & Watercolours. October 1941 (No. 107). Sold to Mrs B C Fitzgerald

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016
 

Literature

Roger Collins and Iain Buchanan, Frances Hodgkins on Display 1890 – 1950 (Hocken Library 2000) p. 81

Arthur R. Howell, Frances Hodgkins: Four Vital Years (Rockliff, London 1951) pp. 121, 130

Provenance

Leicester Galleries, London.

Purchased by Mrs B C Fitzgerald, 1941

Private collection, Auckland


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Frances Hodgkins

Maori Girl in Blue, 1899

Watercolour, 29 x 21 cm
Signed FH top right & dated '99


To Rachel Hodgkins, 18 September 1899. Moeraki.

The Maoris have come from all parts and I have renewed acquaintance with a lot of old models, they are …. hugely interesting from an artistic point of view…. The weather still holds good, yesterday it blew a good deal but it is gloriously fine today and we are going to take our lunch over to the Kaik [Maori settlement near Moeraki] and sketch Maoris.

Images of Maori, painted in the period 1896-1900, occupy a prominent position in Hodgkins’s oeuvre. The original New Zealander had long held a fascination for European artists, the best known and most prolific of whom was probably Bohemian Gottfried Lindauer (1839-1926). In 1893 Hodgkins began lessons with visiting Italian artist Girolamo Pieri Nerli, and it is highly likely she knew of his recent paintings of Pacific subjects, in Samoa and Fiji, while he also produced some based on the Australian Aboriginal.

Hodgkins’ paintings of Maori are almost entirely restricted to portrait studies of women and children. She discovered that there was a market for such subjects, while they were also well received by critics. During the closing years of the nineteenth century she travelled with painting companions to various locations, including Moeraki on the east coast of North Otago, where she was able to engage and work with Maori models. The above letter to her mother described such a visit to Moeraki which coincided with the tangi for a chief.

Three years later, and now in France, Hodgkins recalled the appeal of painting Maori subjects:

I must say the idea of town life when I return does not attract me – I am more than ever set on painting Maoris & the thought that I am going back to a whole island full of them gives me infinite comfort – they are still to me so much more beautiful than anything I have seen on this side of the world…..

Maori Girl in Blue is typical of Hodgkins’ approach, depicting head and shoulders only, which ‘float’ against the paper. It was executed quickly, using the wet-on-wet technique by which new layers of watercolour pigment were applied over those which have not yet dried, a method ideal for outdoor and on-the-spot painting and which was popular with the Impressionists. Similar to the earlier Maori Girl, 1896 (collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery) the subject of Maori Girl in Blue evokes a childlike innocence, smiling, and with large eyes and pronounced lips. This sentimental appeal has been likened to that which was popular in late Victorian paintings of children, as by John Everett Millais and Edwin Landseer.

While Hodgkins was aware of the social circumstances of her Maori subjects, her interest was purely artistic. Thus, by detaching her sitters - attractive young Maori women in European dress - from any background or social context she was able to focus instead on informality and liveliness. And because they were free of ethnic references, Hodgkins’ works stand apart from those of three other artists who were painting Maori at this time: Charles Frederick Goldie, Gottfried Lindauer and Louis John Steele.

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Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016.
 

Literature

E. H. McCormick, Works of Frances Hodgkins in New Zealand (Auckland 1954) p. 149, No.103

 

 

Provenance

Collection. William Matthew Hodgkins

Gifted by W. M. Hodgkins to Mrs E. C. Reynolds

Mrs E. E. McMillan M.P., Dunedin

Private Collection, Dunedin (purchased at E. E. McMillan estate auction 1987)
 

Illustrated

E. H. McCormick, Works of Frances Hodgkins in New Zealand (Auckland 1954) plate 11a


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Frances Hodgkins

Maori Girl, 1900

Watercolour, 32 x 21.5 cm
Signed FH & dated '00

Frances Hodgkins' early watercolours of Maoris present a simple, timeless way of life. Her female figures are often depicted weaving or gathering food and flowers. The present painting was one of the last completed before her first visit to Europe in 1901 and probably helped provide funds for the trip. It was formerly in the collection of her fellow artist, Sydney Lough Thompson, who wrote, "this little sketch... is delightful in its liquid colour tones lightly touched on but at the same time robustly painted."

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E. H. McCormick, Works of Frances Hodgkins in New Zealand (Auckland, 1954), p. 157


Literature

E. H. McCormick, Works of Frances Hodgkins in New Zealand (Auckland, 1954), pp. 156, 157

Provenance

Collection of Sydney Lough Thompson


Frances Hodgkins

 
 

Frances Hodgkins

Calves for Sale, Les Andelys, Normandy, 1901

Watercolour on paper, 20 x 15.5 cm
Signed FH & dated 1901 lower right


To Rachel Hodgkins, 26 August 1901. Hotel de France, Caudebec en Caux, France.

It is very beautiful country all around this neighbourhood and the peasants are a real joy…. some of the old men wear such beautiful blue corduroy bags that make me ache to paint them, it is a great sight to see them on Market day (every Saturday) the whole town is covered with little canvas booths and with the different goods displayed and the babel of noise that goes on, each stallholder crying up their own particular wares.

Frances Hodgkins left New Zealand for the first time in February 1901, and from July that year spent five months in France, joining the painting classes of Penzance-based Norman Garstin at Caudebec-en-Caux. It was here that she met and made friends with English artists Maud Nickalls, Mrs Ashington, Peter Moffat Linder, Norman Garstin and his wife, and Auckland-born Dorothy Kate Richmond. These painting classes enabled her to immerse herself in her art for the first time, without the distractions of family, domesticity and teaching obligations. However, she needed to supplement her modest savings with sales, and assuming that everyday life in turn-of- the-century rural France would appeal to New Zealand buyers, she sought suitable subject matter in the open countryside and towns. Subsequently all these paintings came back for exhibition in New Zealand.

They were produced en plein air and rapidly, as reflected in the fluidity of her brushwork, capturing a sense of the colour, action and informality of village life. But such an approach was not without its challenges, for Hodgkins was mindful that a lady artist at an easel in the market-place was guaranteed to attract comment and the curiosity of the locals.

To Isabel Field, 15 September 1901; from Frances Hodgkins, 21 Av. de la Grande Armée, Paris:

Tomorrow I am off to a place called Les Andelys about 60 miles from Paris where Miss Nickalls is to join me for a fortnight. If we report very favourably on it Mr. Garstin will most likely join us and I will wait there for Miss Richmond.

Some three weeks later Hodgkins wrote to her mother from Arles, mentioning her time in Les Andelys. As planned, Dorothy Kate Richmond had joined her, and the pair were now en route to Italy.

To Rachel Hodgkins, 9 October 1901; from Frances Hodgkins, Hotel du Forum, Arles, Bouches du Rhone, France:

Les A.[ndelys] proved a capital sketching ground and three weeks didnt half exhaust its beauties … but the cold weather drove us South. Miss Nickalls & Mr. Garstin joined me there and we were a very merry party and it was a very happy wind up to our summer’s sketching.

Calves for Sale, Les Andelys, Normandy depicts a farmer in blue - perhaps the ‘beautiful blue corduroy bags’ Hodgkins referred to in the letter to her mother of 26 August 1901 – examining a pen of animals in the foreground. Using her rapid wet-on-wet technique she captured the general atmosphere of the scene, in particular the patchwork of colour and activity in the background. The following year Hodgkins reflected on ‘those market scenes’, describing them as the outcome of ‘great mental strain, with nerves at a tension & eyes bewildered with an ever moving crowd …’

In August 1902 Hodgkins exhibited 37 watercolours of France at the McGregor Wright gallery, Wellington, and three months later several of her watercolours painted at Les Andelys, and also Dinan in Brittany were shown at the Otago Art Society.6 Her market scenes are represented in the permanent collections of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Auckland Art Gallery and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

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Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

Auckland, N.Z. Gus Fisher Gallery, The Expatriates. Frances Hodgkins and Barry Bates. September - December 2005.

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016.

 

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Frances Hodgkins

Old Woman, Caudebec, 1901

Watercolour & gouache, 50 x 32 cm
Signed FH lower right & dated ’01


Frances Hodgkins first sailed from New Zealand for Europe in 1901. Arriving in London in April of that year, Hodgkins joined Norman Garstin (1847 – 1926) on his summer sketching trips in France, spending 1901 in Caudebec and 1902 in Dinan.

It was during her time in Caudebec with Garstin that Hodgkins completed the present painting, which clearly shows the beginnings of Hodgkins’ interest in the French movement of Impressionism with its focus on naturalism and the observation of the effects of light on form. It is well documented that on her arrival in London in 1901, Hodgkins was disappointed with the majority of art that she saw being exhibited, with the exception of John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925) and the Newlyn School of painters. Hodgkins was very appreciative of Sargent’s work, whose technique she exclaimed meant that, ‘You stand back and behold meaningless blobs shape themselves into the most perfect modelling and form.’

The present painting features an elderly woman knitting and shows clear traces of Hodgkins’ focus on the Impressionist approach to painting. The light streaming through the windows is seen to dissolve portions of the framing, while the costume of the woman, her hands and her knitting is translated through a flurry of brushstrokes that provide solidity and form, but not intricate detail. It is these techniques that strengthen and develop in her later paintings to characterise her unique approach to modernism.

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Written by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

Dunedin, N.Z. Otago Art Society Exhibition. 1901 (No. 228)

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: Watercolours from Europe. 2008
 

Literature

Collins & Buchanan, 'Frances Hodgkins on Display', Bulletin of New Zealand Art History, No. 5 (2000), p.32

Frances Hodgkins: Watercolours from Europe, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2008), p. 3

Provenance

Purchased by Alfred Charles Hanlon in 1901

His daughter Eileen Robertson, 1994

Her husband William Scott Robertson, 1968

His son Blair Scott Robertson, 1975

Collection. Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 2008


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Frances Hodgkins

Mother and Daughter Preparing Flowers c.1901/02

Watercolour, 29 x 22 cm
Signed with initials FH lower right


To Isabel Field, 30 September 1902. Patisserie Taffatz, Rue de l’Apport, Dinan.

Those market scenes are the outcome of great mental strain, with nerves at a tension & eyes bewildered with an ever moving crowd & ones senses all alert & linx eyed for effects & relations one thing to another.

Between 1901 and 1903, during her first trip to Europe, Frances Hodgkins joined the Penzance-based artist Norman Garstin’s sketching classes in Caudebec-en-Caux in 1901 and Dinan in 1902. There she met and befriended fellow artists; Maud Nickalls, Mrs Ashington, Peter Moffat Linder and Norman Garstin and his wife. Partaking in the art school afforded Hodgkins, for the first time, the opportunity to immerse herself in her art, unhampered by the distractions of family, friends, domestic life and teaching.

Her paintings from this period reveal her interest in the local street scenes of villages such as Caudebec, Honfleur and Dinan. Frances Hodgkins believed that in order to sell works she had to extend her repertoire to include en plein air paintings. She assumed that this technique would attract more buyers for her works, thus, on her first trip to France she ventured into the open countryside and local markets to capture these vibrant locations.

Her letters contain many references to the difficulties of painting out of doors. She felt that a lady artist at work in small town market places excited local curiosity and comment. These difficulties added their own unique influence to Hodgkins’s work. A rapid fluidity in her brushwork is visible in her watercolours of this period; as if she was trying to capture a multitude of colours, light configurations, shadows and people in a single swift brushstroke.

The present watercolour, Mother and Daughter Preparing Flowers from 1901/2, features a mother and child at a market stall, enlivened by the vibrant colours of the market place. Manipulating the wet-on-wet painting technique, Hodgkins cloaks the figures in an air of mystery as she leaves their forms undefined and offers only the briefest of allusions to the identity of a peasant mother and child. Between 1902 and 1903, Frances Hodgkins painted numerous watercolour scenes of the market stalls in Dinan and Arles, which she subsequently sent back to New Zealand for exhibition. Similar paintings to the present piece are held in the permanent collections of Theomin Gallery, Dunedin, the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, the Auckland Art Gallery and the Museum of New Zealand: Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington.

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Written by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years. April 2012
 

Literature

Joanne Drayton, Frances Hodgkins: A Private Viewing (Auckland, 2005), p. 63.

Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2012), p. 3

Provenance

Private collection, Auckland
 

Illustrated

Joanne Drayton, Frances Hodgkins: A Private Viewing (Auckland, 2005), p. 63. 


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Frances Hodgkins

Preparing food at a Maori Village, Rotorua, 1905

Watercolour, 26.5 x 22 cm
Signed & dated 1905


Whilst Frances Hodgkins was living overseas, she often 'lamented' that not enough 'Maori studies' had been brought back to Europe with her, as she felt that the subject matter had caught on, and the public had taken a general interest in the life and culture of the Maori People. In many of the letters addressed to her mother, she said 'that when I arrive back in New Zealand I will begin to collect some 'genuine native studies'.

Preparing food at a Maori Village, Rotorua is dated 1905, an uncertain year for Hodgkins. Having just returned to New Zealand, she found it difficult to settle as her engagement to the American T.W Wilby had been broken off that year and her planned trip back to Europe delayed. So in June 1905, with the company of her friend Dorothy Kate Richmond, she took off for a long 'sketching holiday' in Rotorua. They stayed at The Lake House which gave them a closer insight into how the Maori lived. From there she reported to her mother 'we have managed to get two models already and have spent a busy day.' She wrote with a note of wry self-mockery how she hoped to renew her youth in the hotel's hot pools. Hodgkins was still in Rotorua during July when she received news that her work had been hung in The Royal Academy, London.

Her watercolour Head of a Maori girl was also executed during this trip to Rotorua in 1905, but very few other works with Maori as subject have actually been recorded.

The present painting, Preparing food at a Maori Village, Rotorua, is a rare, finished watercolour and is notable as it indicates her strong interest in Maori culture. The composition is much more elaborate and the work more resolved than her earlier Maori sketches that focus on women and children, and implies that although Hodgkins was an outsider, she was also an astute observer with an obvious empathy for the traditional Maori way of life.


Exhibited

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery. May 2003


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Frances Hodgkins

The Canal, Dordrecht, 1907

Watercolour, 43.5 x 53.5 cm
Signed F Hodgkins lower right & dated 1907


In 1907 Frances Hodgkins was contentedly painting and teaching in Holland. She stayed at the Pennock's Hotel in Dordrecht where her bedroom window overlooked the canal, a subject which she took great pleasure in painting. That winter Frances wrote to her mother:

My Darling Mother
....There has been a lovely pink barge in the canal in front of my window and I have been painting it. I sent Pete the waiter over to find out how long it was going to remain & to tell the captain I was painting it & to stop as long as he conveniently could. The captain, much pleased, ran up a little Dutch flag and saluted me at the window....

1907 was a pivotal year in Hodgkins' career. While living in Holland she was able to make occasional visits to Amsterdam and benefited from studying the great Dutch Masters. During this year she also held her first solo exhibition at Patterson's Gallery in Bond Street, London, and also had two paintings included in an important show in Amsterdam. She was successful in several other art exhibitions both at home and in Europe. With her increasing international reputation she finally resolved to remain in Europe rather than return to New Zealand.


Provenance

The Ewing Collection, Melbourne

Private Collection, Auckland


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Frances Hodgkins

The Bridge, Dordrecht c.1907/08

Watercolour, 41 x 47 cm
Signed F Hodgkins lower right


Frances Hodgkins spent quite a lot of time in Holland during 1907. It was a popular country for sketching classes of the kind Hodgkins herself took, as did her friend Norman Garstin. in fact, Garstin made a watercolour not dissimilar to this in composition now in th Theomin Collection, Olveston, Dunedin. Part of the appeal of Holland, as of Brittany, was the opportunity to paint figures in distinctive regional costume. The group of children in traditional Dutch costume at the bridge shows Hodgkins' response to this kind of picturesque detail. She admired the works of artists such as Lucien Simon or Stanhope Forbes, who often depicted village life where traditional values and costumes persisted. The painting is pitched in a low key suggestive of an evening light where visibility is reduced and forms begin to merge together and lose their sharpness. She made quite a few watercolours with this kind of lighting in Holland and also at Concarneau. Her receptivity to light effects reveals her continuing interest in impressionistic concerns and observation from nature. The date of the work is partly obscured but is probably 1907.

_

I. Buchanan, M. Dunn, E. Eastmond, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press, 2001). p. 100


Literature

I. Buchanan, M. Dunn, E. Eastmond, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press, 2001). p. 100

Illustrated

I. Buchanan, M. Dunn, E. Eastmond, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press, 2001). Plate 32, p. 101


Hodgkins, Frances - Dordrecht.jpg
 

Frances Hodgkins

Dordrecht, 1908

Watercolour, 53.5 x 69 cm
Signed F.H. & dated ‘08


To Rachel Hodgkins, 11 February 1908. Dordrecht, Netherlands.

There has been a lovely pink barge in the canal in front of my window & I have been painting it. I sent Pete, the waiter, over to find out how long it was going to remain & to tell the Captain I was painting it & to stop as long as he conveniently could. The Captain, much pleased, ran up a little Dutch flag & saluted me at the window.

Frances Hodgkins left London for Dordrecht, in Holland, towards the end of May 1907. On the boat over she discovered her old Caudebec acquaintance Moffatt Linder, who was based in St Ives but came to Dordrecht twice a year to a year to paint.

They parted company in Dordrecht, but agreed to meet later. Frances had advertised for art pupils in London and hoped to gather a group of five. Two students joined her at her Pennock's Hotel and she set about finding suitable images of the town and its people to paint.

Her watercolour,Dordrecht, contains many of the elements she would have been looking for. The painting with its muted colours, reflecting the wet overcast day, has a certain liveliness. The light glistens on wet surfaces and plays off puddles, the canal and clouds, thereby activating the rust and dark hues, the forest greens and the vivid touches of ultramarine blue that are used sparingly throughout the composition.

Teaching brought with it its own challenges. One of her pupils became ill and had to return to England and while she gained one or two more students, her costs were barely covered. She did, however, make the aquitance of Dutch painter, Evert Moll, who lived in Dordrecht but also painted in London and Paris. Frances accompanied Moll on several painting excursions.

_

_
Source - Joanna Drayton, Frances Hodgkins: A Private Viewing (Auckland, 2005) p.111


Literature

Joanne Drayton, Frances Hodgkins: A Private Viewing (Auckland, 2005) p.111

Exhibited

Adelaide, AU. Art Gallery of South Australia. 1923


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Frances Hodgkins

Gypsies on Hilltop c.1910

Watercolour, 47.5 x 45 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower right


Exhibited

Wellington, N.Z. WH Turnbulls Art Gallery.
 

Literature

Collins & Buchanan, 'Frances Hodgkins on Display', Bulletin of New Zealand Art History, No. 5 (2000), p.50.


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Frances Hodgkins

Still Life with Fish c.1910

Black chalk and watercolour on paper, 52 x 58 cm


To Rachel Hodgkins, 28 July 1910. Concarneau.

I eat at a little café where I get large platefuls of soup & sardines & crabs & veal & beefsteaks very raw & red & nearly always green peas stewed with onions & lots of sugar which taste much better than they sound- all washed down with copious quantities of red wine & very sour cider…

In 2007, twenty previously unknown watercolours by Frances Hodgkins were purchased by the Auckland Art Gallery from the Parisian art dealer Mathieu Néouze. Néouze and his associate, who discovered the collection at Monfort-l’Amaury, retained one work each for their own private collections: Tunny Boats in the Harbour, Concarneau c.1910 and Still Life with Fish. In 2009 these two valuable watercolours were located in Paris by Jonathan Grant Galleries, where they were promptly purchased and returned to Auckland. These two important paintings are now offered for sale for the first time on the New Zealand market.

The present painting, Still Life with Fish that was painted around 1910 is most likely to have been painted as a ‘teaching demonstration’ for one of Hodgkins’s Concarneau art classes. During 1910, Hodgkins chose the small fishing village of Concarneau as the location for her summer school. The town was a well known, but still unspoilt haunt for artists and it attracted well-established French painters, students and amateurs alike. In this idyllic location Hodgkins found the ideal subject matter, not only for her own artwork, but also for her eager students. She later wrote of her teaching experience from Paris on the 27th of November 1911 saying:

My Class is a real going concern now & a great success. I am refusing pupils on account of lack of space. I can only take 16 altogether – 8 in each class as the Studio is not large. Also I have several private pupils at a guinea an hour.

Hodgkins’s Still Life with Fish is an excellent example of the artist’s working methods and clearly displays the influence of the watercolourist Arthur Melville (1858-1904). Hodgkins greatly admired Melville’s exotic market scenes and still lifes of food and pottery, in which he used a saturated palette and a loose, fluid line.

In her Concarneau works, Hodgkins utilised the ‘wet-on-wet’ technique - a technique that she developed in Europe, in order to bring her watercolours to life. This method saw a flurry of line, broad washes of colour and often large expanses of untouched paper that serve to highlight the confidence of the composition and the rapidity with which these works were executed. An example of this is seen in Still Life with Fish, which possesses a vibrant immediacy as though the work has only just been finished. As a result, the work is palpably real and is a supreme example of Hodgkins’s skill at capturing fleeting moments in time.

Hodgkins’s focus on the independent forms of the serving utensils and fish combines to produce an almost abstract patterned effect. Combined with her use of multiple viewpoints and tilting planes, the watercolour acknowledges the two-dimensional reality of the paper and in doing so pays homage to the father of modern art and the abstracted still life: Paul Cézanne.

_
Written by Grace Alty & Jonathan Gooderham
Edited by Jemma Field


Exhibited

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years. April 2012
 

Literature

Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2012), p. 5

Provenance

Private collection, Montfort-l’Amaury, France

Mathieu Néouze, Paris


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Frances Hodgkins

The Family After Dinner c.1910-14

Watercolour, 55 x 71 cm
Signed F Hodgkins lower right


In this watercolour, Hodgkins depicts a subject that she regularly painted at the turn of the twentieth century, a group of figures in a domestic setting. The technique used in this watercolour is typical of these early works, being constructed through a series of loose, fluid washes of colour. It is very similar in terms of style to works such as The Window Seat (Art Gallery of New South Wales), painted in 1907. It is most likely that The Family After Dinner was painted in the early 1910s.

The present watercolour depicts four figures in an interior complete with a pale green sofa, heavy drapes and a glowing lamp in the background. The soft focus and golden light of the painting indicates early evening, and the calm poses of the figures coupled with the muted palette add a romantic element. Hodgkins consciously contrasts the strong vertical brushstrokes in the curtains and sofa with the rounded curve of the back of the sofa.

In this painting, Hodgkins clearly communicates the ambience of the scene rather than specific details, such as the identity of the figures. Indeed, the figure by the lamp is very subtly intimated and is almost in complete shadow. The gentleman in the foreground bears a remarkable resemblance to Hodgkins’ friend and patron Moffat Lindner, President of the St Ives Art Club, whose Porthmeor Studios Hodgkins occupied during her 1914-1920 stay in St Ives. Hodgkins painted a portrait of Lindner with his wife and daughter in c.1916 in his Porthmeor Studio, so it is possible this scene captures the family together again at his Chy-an-Porth home. The gentleman faces away from us, absorbed in his reading, while a woman beside him extends her arms out holding a wool skein. Beside her sits another woman, her head bent in reading, while a younger woman opposite them is engrossed in her knitting, or rolling the wool from the skein into a ball.

The focus on the effects of sombre lighting clearly shows Hodgkins’ interest in the French Impressionists at this time and their concern with the effects of light. The present painting also shows Hodgkins’ interest in French Intimiste interiors by artists such as Edouard Vuillard (1868 – 1940), whose works she would have seen in Paris. Thus, the very pale greens and dashes of cream are set off against the warm browns and reds to create an intimate scene of allure and charm. A further element of poignancy is evident in the familial scene and is ‘enhanced by her exclusion from them.’

_
Written by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: Watercolours from Europe. 2008
 

Literature

Frances Hodgkins: Watercolours from Europe, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2008), p. 13

Provenance

Private collection, Montfort-l’Amaury, France


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Frances Hodgkins

Children Playing, 1917

Watercolour, 42 x 42 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower right
Inscribed "To Mrs Hellyer from Frances Hodgkins, 1917"


On July 17th, 1917 Frances Hodgkins wrote to her mother from her studio in St Ives, England:

Have just finished a very successful portrait of Mrs Hellyer which everyone likes, especially the husband who has just been down for the weekend and now insists on my painting him as well as a large group of the children.

Another letter to her mother on August 7th, 1917:

Well I went to the Hellyers at Port Isaac and had a great week.  Luckily it was fine so I was able to do a big portrait group of them in the garden.

And on November 18th, 1919 again she writes to her mother:

The first week end Mrs Hellyer bore me off to their lovely new house at Carbis Bay.  She is now a widow, beautiful and not yet 40 fascinating - and such a house to fascinate in! Much reduced in wealth by her husbands sudden death so there will be no more pictures by Frances Hodgkins bought alas...


Provenance

The Hellyer family, England, UK


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Frances Hodgkins

Portrait of Miss Beatrice Wood, 1918

Oil on canvas, 73.5 x 73 cm
Signed lower right

 


To Will Field, 30 March 1918. Wharf Studio, St Ives.

My Dear Will
….The other day 3 nice girls, all from NZ, blew into the Studio - Miss Denniston of Peel Forest - Barker - ditto & Beatrice Wood from Chch, a bright fair haired girl with a fluffy dog in her arms. She wanted me to paint her a sketch of herself for her Dad - William Wood - which I did! She was awfully pleased & sent a cheque for 8gns and has dunned her Father for the balance of £12.12. ... She is a masterful, young person - of the nice sort, & I would like to adopt her…

Beatrice Wood (1889 - 1987) was born in Christchurch and educated at Rangiruru Girls' School, where her interest in painting began. She attended a finishing school in England before returning to art school in Christchurch where her tutors included Sydney Lough Thompson and Margaret Stoddart. Back in England at the outbreak of World War I, Beatrice served as a volunteer ambulance driver at the New Zealand base at Codford on Salisbury Plain. Part of her role included caring for recuperating officers, which indirectly lead to a major turning point in her personal and artistic life. Having contracted measles at Codford she went to St. Ives for a holiday, where she met and befriended Frances Hodgkins.

E. H. McCormick in his book The Expatriate describes their first meeting:

... and there was Miss Beatrice Wood who, one day in the early spring of 1918, 'blew in' to the studio at St. Ives, 'a bright fair haired girl with a fluffy dog in her arms'. She was 'a masterful young person - of the nice sort' endowed with a business sense inherited, Frances supposed, from 'that big family of miller and merchant Woods' she herself had known as young men when they visited Christchurch in her youth. In her masterful fashion, Miss Wood commissioned a portrait which was completed after three sittings and sent to New Zealand in the care of Sir Joseph Ward.

The present painting was the first of Hodgkins' oils to reach this country and Miss Wood, Frances reported, was 'awfully pleased' with the finished portrait, sent a cheque for eight guineas and 'dunned' her father for the remaining twelve.

While Miss Wood rested at St. Ives after her patriotic labours in the canteen at Codford, an intimacy sprang up between the two; 'I would like to adopt her,' wrote Frances after their first meeting.

The portrait itself is a fine example of Hodgkins' work of the period, with her intriguing use of strong, contrasted colours in the sitters face and hat, skillfully juxtaposed with the pastel tones prevalent in the painting. This early modernist technique is also evident in another of Hodgkins' important works of the period, Loveday and Anne (Tate Gallery, London). Both pictures were completed at a time when she was relatively new to oils as a medium and certainly she appears to use the oil paint almost as if it was watercolour, adding to the freshness and spontaneity of the Portrait of Miss Beatrice Wood.

The two artists remained in close contact until Beatrice's return to New Zealand. In 1921 Beatrice married Tom Seddon, son of New Zealand's former Prime Minister Richard John Seddon. As well as raising three children, Beatrice made time to pursue her artistic career, holding many 'one-man' exhibitions throughout the country. An enthusiastic gardener, many of her paintings were inspired by the camellias and rhododendrons in her own garden at Wadestown Road, Wellington. From the early 1950's a New Zealand home was not considered complete without one of Beatrice Seddon's beautiful floral studies. Beatrice also enjoyed portraying the New Zealand landscape, particularly the West Coast of the South Island and her childhood home, Canterbury. Her work also caught the eye of many visitors to this country and it is said "that there are now many homes in England, Australia, America and even India that are lovelier for one of her paintings." Lady Freyberg was one of Mrs Seddon's most enthusiastic admirers and it was she who was responsible for choosing one of Beatrice's works to adorn the Royal Suite at Government House when Princess Elizabeth visited in 1952. In 1971 Beatrice travelled to Norfolk, England to view an exhibition of Flower Paintings of the World where one of her own flower studies had been selected by the National Art Gallery to represent New Zealand.


Exhibited

London, U.K. Grosvenor Gallery. October 1918 (No. 254)

Christchurch, N.Z. Canterbury Society of Arts. 1919 (No. 34)

A Centenary Exhibition. 1969:

  • Dunedin, N.Z. Dunedin Public Art Gallery. April-May, 1969
  • Christchurch, N.Z. Robert McDougall Art Gallery. June 1969
  • Wellington, N.Z. National Art Gallery. July 1969
  • Auckland City Art Gallery, August 1969
  • Melbourne, A.U. National Gallery of Victoria. October 1969
  • London, U.K. Commonwealth Institute Gallery. February 1970

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Galleries, The Beatrice Seddon Collection. October 2001

Provenance

Commissioned by Beatrice Seddon and painted at St. Ives in 1918. 

Thence by family descent.


Illustrated

Ascent. Frances Hodgkins, Commemorative Issue (Caxton Press with QE II Arts Council, Christchurch 1969) p. 36

Frances Hodgkins 1869 – 1947, Queen Elizabeth Arts Council of New Zealand (Auckland 1969) p.25. No. 23

 


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Frances Hodgkins

Burford High Street, Oxfordshire c.1922

Watercolour & pencil, 11 x 13 cm
Signed F Hodgkins lower right


To Rachel Hodgkins, 13 January 1922. Studio, St Lawrence’s St, Burford, Oxon.

…[The Studio] is a lovely old barn. I have bought 8 old chairs for 10/-… an old counter for a table, an iron bedstead & various adjuncts including a black kitten, young of Mrs. Plosh of Park Farm, Barrington. It takes plenty of nerve to climb my ladder – a handrail will be necessary if visitors are not to break the neck in the semi-darkness of a winter afternoon.... No more now Dearest. It is too cold. You must walk seven miles at least if you want to get thawed – so I am off – I go [in] the afternoon round by Grt. Barrington by the low road & back by the High.

In 1922 Frances Hodgkins moved to the Cotswolds town of Burford about twenty miles from Oxford. There she rented a lovely old barn, which was to serve both as a studio and her living quarters. She was determined to make the barn into a ‘Hodgkins centre’, where pupils could rally round and immerse themselves in art. At the same time she could not believe that she was settling down again in England after shaking its dust off her feet only a year before.

Hodgkins continued to hold regular art classes and students soon flocked to the small town of Burford. Hodgkins related her experience of teaching to her close friends, Jane Saunders and Hannah Ritchie in a letter written from her studio on the 24th of June 1922:

Burford is a deadly place for stranded artists when it rains. I have had them all very heavily on my chest. A friend living at Taynton, 1 1/2 miles away, has let me have the run of her house & garden while she is in London – so we have been tramping out there in the wet with our lunch & tea & painting flowers – of every description – a lovely rose garden with torrents of blossom from every tree.

The present watercolour, Burford High Street, Oxfordshire c. 1922, is a clear example of Hodgkins’s mature style, which she had developed by the 1920s. The naturalistic element is still present, but she has shifted her attention to focus on the reality of the picture plane, which takes precedence over the creation of a three-dimensional illusion. As such, the landscape has been completely flattened and divided into clear segments of contrasting colour. The success of the painting lies in Hodgkins’s mastery of subtle shifts in chromatic tonalities and the use of a fluid, gestural line, which works to unify the composition and to provide a harmonious balance.

_
Written by Grace Alty & Jonathan Gooderham
Edited by Jemma Field


Exhibited

London, U.K. Tate Gallery, Frances Hodgkins Memorial Exhibition. 1952. Lent by Jane Saunders.

Provenance

Collection of Miss D J (Jane) Saunders and Miss A M (Elizabeth) Shaw

Thence by descent

Private collection, Auckland


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.


Provenance

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


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Frances Hodgkins

The Potters c.1923

Watercolour & gouache, 47 x 48 cm


In 1922 Frances Hodgkins moved to the Cotswolds town of Burford about twenty miles from Oxford. There she rented an old barn, which was to serve both as a studio and her living quarters. She was determined to make the barn into a ‘Hodgkins centre’, where pupils could rally round and immerse themselves in art. Hodgkins continued to hold regular art classes and students soon flocked to the small town of Burford.

On the 1st of May, 1923 Frances Hodgkins wrote from her studio in St. Lawrence’s Street to her friends Hannah Ritchie and Jane Saunders:

Amy Krauss suggests coming for the summer with a crate of Pottery and her wheel and setting up business and teaching – I am finding her a shop front – It will be invigorating for Burford.

In a letter to Hannah Ritchie in June, 1923 there is further news of Amy Krauss’s move to Burford.

….. Miss Krauss comes next month. She has got a shop – discovered where to get clay for nothing – where to build a field-furnace – and seems likely to make a good thing of it….

_

Written by Grace Alty & Jonathan Gooderham
Edited by Jemma Field


Provenance

Collection of Sir Ronald Scott, Christchurch

Private Collection, Auckland

Illustrated

The Dominion, 1992


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Frances Hodgkins

Lancashire Children c.1927

Oil on canvas, 74 x 61 cm
Signed lower left & lower right


Lancashire Children was probably painted by Hodgkins in Manchester around the same time as Lancashire Family, but in her new, richer painting style. Although she keeps the dominant ochre colouration of Lancashire Family, the paint is much more thickly applied: layered and impasted so that the gestural brush marks carry an expressive force. This style becomes increasingly apparent in her works of the late 1920s, such as A Country Window and Still Life in a Landscape. The children are framed by a window with still-life objects in the foreground, a format that anticipates her still-life paintings of the 1930s. This was a theme already in use among members of the Seven and Five Society, which she was to join in 1929. The intense blue sky with its striated pattern of clouds also becomes a feature of her later Mediterranean landscapes. Originally the sky extended to the top of the canvas, where the blue paint can still be seen under the brown layer, indicating that the framing device only entered at a late stage of the painting's execution.

_

I. Buchanan, M. Dunn, E. Eastmond. Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press, 2001) Plate 19, p. 124


Exhibited

London, U.K. Whitford and Hughes, Frances Hodgkins 1869 - 1947. 1990
 

Literature

I. Buchanan, M. Dunn, E. Eastmond, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press, 2001), p. 124

Illustrated

I. Buchanan, M. Dunn, E. Eastmond, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press, 2001) Plate 19, p. 124

Avenal McKinnon, Frances Hodgkins 1869 - 1947. Whitford and Hughes (London, 1990) No. 8. 


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Frances Hodgkins

Three Bowls of Flowers c.1930

Watercolour & gouache, 51 x 54 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower left


Exhibited

Wellington, N.Z. Frances Hodgkins: Works from Private Collections. August 1989

Illustrated

Frances Hodgkins: Works from Private Collections (Catalogue), August 1989. No. 33


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Frances Hodgkins

The Sitting Room c. 1930/31

Black chalk on paper, 30 x 30 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower centre


To Dorothy Selby, 25 June 1931. Sube Hotel, St Tropez, Var.

But this last batch of a dozen drawings is good I think. Definitely it is summer weather now and one is at ones best.

Frances Hodgkins spent the year of 1930 preparing for her October exhibition at St George’s Gallery, London. She was, however, exhausted and in very low spirits. Hodgkins’s close friend, Lett Haines, arranged for her to go first to a cottage in St Osyth near Clacton-on-Sea and then later to a friend’s farm, Wise Follies, near the village of Wilmington in Sussex. It is here that Hodgkins again took up her drawing practice, focussing on the local villages and other still life subjects.

Hodgkins’ preoccupation with conveying movement through line in her drawings originated in the early stages of her career. Her fixation with the still life genre continued on into the 1930’s where she was able to combine a series of separate still life objects as well as their surroundings in an effortless and graceful manner. Hodgkins’ later works proclaim her confidence and the apparent ease with which she was able to wield her pencil - charging it with the same interest that had fuelled her earlier explorations into colour.

The curving lines that sweep across Hodgkins’ drawings invoke a sense of space and freedom, while also appearing to capture fleeting moments in time. In some instances, Hodgkins brought heterogeneous objects together, weaving a composition from items taken from her immediate environment instead of seeing them in abstract terms as she came to do in her later paintings.

This idea is especially prevalent in the present charcoal drawing, The Sitting Room from 1930 - 1931. The work shares several similar key compositional elements with Pleasure Garden painted in 1932, which is held in the permanent collection of the Christchurch Art Gallery. As such, it is likely that The Sitting Room served as a preliminary drawing to Pleasure Garden. Similarities are seen in the design of the table and the curved armrest of the chair, in the right hand corner of The Sitting Room, which are then echoed in the Pleasure Garden. A similarity can also be drawn between the empty bottle and two glasses in The Sitting Room, and the undulating shapes of the wine bottle and glasses in the foreground of the painting in the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Featuring an extremely complex composition, The Sitting Room presents the viewer with numerous pieces of furniture, decorative objects, functional items and patterned fabrics that are all set within a small domestic space. Testament to Hodgkins’ proficiency as a draughtsman and her understanding of pictorial space, The Sitting Room is at once both frenetically busy and quietly calm. The absence of any human presence lends the work a calmative effect, which successfully offsets the busyness of the piece. In doing so, Hodgkins avoids the potential of overwhelming busyness due to the wealth of visual interest. While there is little attempt to show real distance in the work, each object is still given depth and solidity through careful shadowing, which imparts the scene with an empathic domesticity.

_
Written by Grace Alty & Jonathan Gooderham
Edited by Jemma Field


Exhibited

London, U.K. The Fine Art Society. January 1968.

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years. April 2012
 

Literature

Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2012), p. 17

Provenance

Private Collection, Canterbury, U.K.


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Frances Hodgkins

Bodinnick, Cornwall c.1931

Watercolour, 45 x 37 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower left
Inscribed Bodinnick, Cornwall lower right


To Dorothy Selby, 21 December 1931. The Nook, Bodinnick-by-Fowey, Cornwall.

‘I am working very hard – searching for subjects; bad light, cold hands – depression all the seven devils as usual.‘

In August 1931 Frances Hodgkins decided to leave the bustling city of London for a quieter life in the country and consequently moved to ‘The Nook’, Bodinnick-by-Fowey in Cornwall. In a letter to Dorothy Selby, Hodgkins wrote, The Nook is neither of the “Rookery” or the “Cosy” sort but suits my needs – no other fool could stand it. Hodgkins painted the surrounding countryside relentlessly, as she feared her contract with galleries in London might be terminated because of the ever-worsening depression, caused by the stock market crash in 1929. Her hard work paid off and in February 1932 she exhibited with the Seven and Five Society and later that year with the Salford Gallery near Manchester, and also with Zwemmer, Tooth’s & Wertheim galleries in London.

Once she settled in, Hodgkins found her new Cornish environment immensely stimulating not only because of the beautiful natural surroundings, but also because of her new neighbours. She wrote of them to Dorothy Selby on the 21st of December 1931, saying:

I enclose a picture of The “Nook” which is my temporary home. The large white house in the right belongs to Sir Gerald du Maurier which he uses as a stage setting only in the summer – But his rather beautiful son-daughter lives here, Daphne, and is [a] rather disturbing feature in the extremely homely little village.

One of the most significant works of Frances Hodgkins’ career, Wings over Water 1931-1932 (Tate Collection, London), is based on the view from her studio window at ‘The Nook’. It is notable that the present painting, Bodinnick, Cornwall was completed at roughly the same time as Wings over Water, and moreover, it was painted from the exact same location. Wings over Water is one of Hodgkins’ most elaborate works that combines a still life of three large shells with a landscape aspect.

In Wings over Water, Hodgkins uses the window as a framing device, placing the shells in close proximity to the viewer in the foreground of the painting. The still life gives way to rolling pastoral hills and an expanse of water, while a fence with a perching parrot demarcates the middle distance. Similarly, in the present work, Bodinnick, Cornwall, Hodgkins’ studio window again acts to frame the piece beyond which the vista rapidly unfolds. Hodgkins’s use of colour is comparatively subdued as broad washes of colour are liberally applied with only a cursory regard for outlines. Movement is effectively conveyed through dashes and strokes of pigment with the scudding clouds being given only the briefest of marks.

The thickly-painted black gate in the foreground of the composition is central to the compositional success of the work. Providing a solid almost tangible presence, the gate gives way to shrubbery, houses and boats that are drawn with a thin, confident line. Indeed, the gate works to guide the viewer through the painting – enticing us to open the gate and wander down into the reality of the narrow streets and the harbour of Bodinnick-by-Fowey. It is significant that a series of watercolours that Hodgkins painted at ‘The Nook’ were selected by the Tate Gallery at this time and sent to Chicago for exhibition, testifying to their compositional success and persuasive allure.

_
Written by Grace Alty & Jonathan Gooderham
Edited by Jemma Field


Exhibited

London, U.K. Leicester Galleries, Paintings & Watercolours. October 1941 (No. 105)

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years. April 2012
 

Literature

Roger Collins and Iain Buchanan, Frances Hodgkins on Display 1890 – 1950 (Auckland, 2000), p. 81.

Arthur R. Howell, Frances Hodgkins: Four Vital Years (London, 1951), p. 121.

Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2012), p. 19

Provenance

Leicester Galleries, London, 1941

Purchased from above, thence by descent to private collection, Auckland 


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Frances Hodgkins

Two Wooden Figures in Sabrina's Garden c.1932

Pencil on paper, 43 x 28 cm
Unsigned


In the summer of 1932, Frances Hodgkins and fellow artist Hannah Ritchie set out on a sketching holiday to Norfolk. After finding the landscape flat and uninspiring, the pair instead decided to seek inspiration in the West Country on the banks of the river Severn in Bridgenorth, Shropshire.

Hodgkins wrote at the time to her friend Dorothy Selby:

This place is a complete wash out – Won’t do in any way – from our point of view – Hannah admits she has made a mistake … depressing waste of mud flats on all sides - & flat flat landscape – a lifeless outlook. We have jogged round for 2 days & have decided against staying – she halfheartedly & I very empathetically – and are leaving Tuesday morning for Bridgenorth my old love … I am tingling with impatience to get settled - & at work.

Two Wooden Figures in Sabrina’s Garden is a pencil study completed by Hodgkins whilst in Bridgenorth. The sketch went on to inspire and inform the artist’s major oil Sabrina’s Garden painted circa 1934 – currently held in the collection of the Bristol City Art Gallery. The two female figures however make their first appearance in the watercolour Pleasure Garden, 1932, which features many of the elements – sunflowers, canvas awnings, a table and chairs – present in Sabrina’s Garden. ‘Sabrina’ was the Roman name for river Severn, whose sunny banks inspired this series of work.

Two Wooden Figures is an excellent example of the artist’s refining of ideas. As exemplified by Pleasure Garden, and later by Sabrina’s Garden, the works completed over the course of the summer of 1932 saw Hodgkins move away from her earlier Impressionistic style to embrace a freer more abstract approach with a focus on colour harmonies and essential yet expressive lines.

Whilst her work was critically acclaimed in England and Europe, Hodgkins’ shift towards an unconventional and abstract style caused an enormous amount of controversy back in New Zealand. In 1948 members of the Canterbury Society of Arts sought to purchase some paintings by the artist but upon receiving a selection from the British Council decided against buying any of them. Among them was the serene Pleasure Garden though the tranquillity of the painting seemed lost on a New Zealand audience who reacted with indifference or hostility. Pleasure Garden suddenly became one of the most famous paintings in the country as petitions were signed, letters written and debates had. Three years later in 1951 the new Christchurch council accepted the painting and it is now held in the collection of the Christchurch Art Gallery

Unaware of the controversy that would follow, Hodgkins stated in a letter to Peter Watson of ‘Horizon’ on 14 November 1941 that:

The original painting of Sabrina’s Garden with its two wooden figures is, incidentally, my favourite of that vintage 1930-40.

_
Written by Natalia Deyr


Exhibited

Wellington, N.Z. Frances Hodgkins: Works from Private Collections. August 1989

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016

 

Provenance

John Piper (Executor of Frances Hodgkins' will)

Professor Peter Millard, Saskatoon, Canada
 

Illustrated

Frances Hodgkins: Works from Private Collections (Catalogue), August 1989. No. 29


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Frances Hodgkins

Ibiza, 1933

Watercolour on paper, 35.5 x 48.3 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower right
Inscribed Ibiza lower left
 


To Karl Hagedorn, 29 January 1933. Hotel Balear, Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain.

I must say, in this clear ivory light every common object looks important and significant ….things appear in stark simplicity minus all detail – nothing corked up (bouchée) or hidden in grey, or brown light of the North. Of course, later on, this intense sun light will convert colour & form into absolute negation but at the moment there is complete lovlieness. The pale coloured flat roofed houses without windows give a blind restful feeling, of immense space.

Rée Gorer, mother of social anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer, became a great patron of Hodgkins’ work, and it was her purchase of a painting that enabled the artist in late 1932 to escape the British winter and fund the last of her long continental journeys, south to Ibiza in the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. Following the establishment of a tourist trade and the opening of the first hotels in the 1930s, Ibiza became increasingly popular with artists, writers and architects who came to study its indigenous building tradition.

Hodgkins was in Ibiza from October 1932 until the following July, meeting up with English artist Gwen Knight and New Zealander May Smith. She painted a large number of images of the town’s architecture and the local animals, observing a special breed of long-legged dog, as well as mules, horses, asses, cats and ‘caged birds by the dozen’.

To Karl Hagedorn, 3 January 1933. Hotel Balear, Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain.

The show is the thing – I must set London talking – they expect it of me – my Dealers - & it is a rotten bad thought to fill one’s mind – but down here I forget all about it & think only of the jolly things I see round me and the awful urge to get at them…

By early May 1933 Hodgkins was feeling the pressure of her work, and ‘straining’ to complete a commission, she sought temporary respite by travelling to the other side of the island of Ibiza. In a letter to her friend Dorothy Selby she suggested she lived ‘too close to [her] work’, while her accommodation was far from ideal she lived and painted in a ‘smallish badly lit room’. At that stage spare rooms were unobtainable in Ibiza on account of the influx of Jewish refugees from Germany. Hodgkins was observing developments that would be of increasing international concern as the decade progressed, reporting a ‘war scare’ and, among other things, a ‘tightening up of passports.’

The 1933 watercolour Ibiza was painted from an elevated viewpoint. It shows the town dominated by the Puig des Moulins (Hill of Windmills), while one such structure, prominent on the right, appears to have had its sails ‘deconstructed’ and thereby been reduced to essential elements, much as Hodgkins did with other subjects. Elsewhere, old stone buildings appear in outline only, reflecting the intense Mediterranean sunlight, while foreground vegetation is reduced to calligraphic squiggles. This liveliness of the scene continues overhead, where the sky is captured economically as a series of slashes of bright blue pigment.

Because of the various pressures she was experiencing at Ibiza, Hodgkins decided to postpone her next exhibition in London, planned for the spring, until autumn. Works produced on the spot on the island were eventually included in New Watercolour Drawings, in October-November 1933. This was her first solo exhibition with the Lefevre Gallery, which she shared with Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson.

_
Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

London, U.K. Lefevre Gallery, New Watercolours and Drawings. October - November 1933 (No. 12). Sold to Mrs A Carlisle

Manchester, U.K. City of Manchester Art Gallery. (No. 16)

U.K. C.E.M.A. exhibition, Contemporary Watercolours and gouaches

U.K. C.E.M.A. exhibition, Sir Edward Marsh Collection

U.K. Arts Council of Great Britain touring Exhibition, sponsored by Isle of Purbeck Arts Club, Swanage, Bournemouth, Totnes, St Ives. March - May 1948 (No. 30)

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016

Provenance

Collection: Mrs Anne Carlisle, Cambridge, U.K.

Collection: Sir Edward Marsh (1872 – 1953), London U.K.
 

Literature

Arthur R. Howell, Frances Hodgkins: Four Vital Years (Rockliff, London 1951) pp. 101, 118, 128

Roger Collins and Iain Buchanan, Frances Hodgkins on Display 1890 - 1950 (Hocken Library 2000) p. 68 No. 12


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Frances Hodgkins

Figures in a Mediterranean Landscape c.1933

Watercolour, 48 x 36 cm
Signed in pencil lower right
Inscribed below mount garden scene


To Karl Hagedorn, 29 January 1933. Hotel Balear, Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain.

It seems hard to remember that I recently lived in the Lambolle Road. [Hampstead, London, NW3] so completely do I feel absorbed into this setting – the one thing calculated to bring me down to reality is rent day …

By mid-July 1933 Hodgkins was back in her Lambolle Road studio, in London, and among the watercolours painted whilst she was in Ibiza was Figures in a Mediterranean landscape. The first owner of this painting was Bradford businessman Charles Rutherston (aka Rothenstein), older brother of artist Sir William Rothenstein, who was a keen collector and supporter of the arts and played a key role in the careers of such leading English artists as Gwen and Augustus John, Paul Nash and Henry Moore.

In certain respects Figures in a Mediterranean landscape is similar to another of Hodgkins’ watercolours from 1933, Spanish Woman Washing in the Garden. A tree separates the two figures in the Mediterranean landscape, whereas the Spanish woman is framed by a pair of trees which merge to form an arch. The latter individual also bears a resemblance to one of the figures in the Mediterranean landscape. Both paintings were executed with Hodgkins’ usual fluidity, with the elements only loosely connected to one another, and include the geometric white forms of the local vernacular architecture.

Although one figure dominates the other in the Mediterranean landscape, the painting is one of a number of Hodgkins’ double (and triple) portraits produced between the early 1920s and the late 1930s. Compared to an earlier (1930) oil, The Bridesmaids (collection of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki), the Mediterranean pair are described with much less detail, although there is still sufficient to indicate that they are locals, and the larger figure’s grasp on the central tree suggests a strong connection to the region. Elsewhere, the scattering of small tree motifs across the composition is suggestive of a patterned textile.

In the years prior to Figures in a Mediterranean landscape, Hodgkins had been receiving positive responses to her work when shown at various venues in London. In May 1928 she was included, along with John Nash, William Roberts, Ukraine-born British artist Bernard Meninsky and others, in an exhibition of watercolours at the St. George’s Gallery in Hanover Square, London. A reviewer noted that the use of that medium to ‘capture light while defining structure and configuration with the minimum of labour and material’ was a relatively recent development, and referred to Hodgkins’ Mother and Child as one of several watercolours of ‘remarkable ability’.

In March 1929, when included with Winifred Nicholson and Christopher Wood in an exhibition of the Seven and Five Society at Tooth’s gallery, New Bond Street, Hodgkins was identified as the artist who was ‘most sure of her ground’.

A year later, when she exhibited oil paintings and watercolours at the Claridge Gallery in Brook Street, Hodgkins was described as ‘primarily a colourist’ and likened to Cézanne, engaged in trying to ‘make of Impressionism something of the old masters’. And she also received a positive review to her November 1929 exhibition at the Bloomsbury Gallery:

The paintings by Miss Frances Hodgkins … have a freakish character that is so evidently constitutional that it becomes an added attraction … Miss Hodgkins is an admirable colourist, bold and at the same time subtle in her arrangements, and her system of painting is a sort of free translation of natural forms so as to bring different objects into the same category for the purposes of design.

Figures in a Mediterranean landscape can be seen as a celebration of youthful innocence and vitality, the latter reinforced by the inclusion of the central plant motif. And while the dominant foreground figure echoes Hodgkins’ earlier portraits, as of young Maori, the inclusion of an impressionistic background now hints at the combinations of figures (and still lifes) and landscape that would follow.

_
Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

London, U.K. Lefevre Gallery (label verso)

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016

Provenance

Charles Lambert Rutherston (Rothenstien) (1866-1927)

Jeanette Powell née Rutherston

Thence by family descent


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Frances Hodgkins

The Croft, Still life with Divan c.1931-34

(The Croft: View from a window / The Ottoman)
Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 76.2 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower right

 


Painted from a window of Geoffrey Gorer’s cottage The Croft, Bradford-on-Tone. This is one of the two paintings using the flower-covered ottoman in the foreground, a device used to heighten what Frances Hodgkins described as the "Persian garden" feel the Croft had. The other version is Landscape with Still Life (Collection of Art Gallery of South Australia. Reproduced 1969 Centenary Cat. No. 54)

According to Nancy Moore, a young neighbour at the Croft, "The ottoman in the foreground stood near a window which looked out onto the landscape beyond but there were no trees there, Frances Hodgkins has invented them." In a letter to Karl Hagedorn Frances Hodgkins wrote:

This is Geoffrey Gorer's cottage and 1 have the use of it ... It is a flat rather uninteresting country - green fields, occasional farms - within sight of the Quantoks, 64 miles from Taunton, but a lovely peaceful garden makes up for all the deficiencies."


Exhibited

U.K. Arts Council of Great Britain Touring Exhibition, sponsored by Isle of Purbeck Arts Club, Swanage, Bournemouth, Totnes, St Ives. March – May 1948 (No. 5)
 

Literature

Arthur R Howell, Four Vital Years (Rockliff, London 1951) p. 103, p.127

Provenance

Collection of Geoffrey Gorer Esq.
 

Illustrated

Avenal McKinnon, Frances Hodgkins 1869 - 1947. Whitford and Hughes (London, 1990), No. 20

 


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Frances Hodgkins

House in the Countryside c.1930-35

Watercolour, 63 x 45 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower left 


It is most likely that this painting, depicting a country house and landscape, was completed in the early-mid 1930s. Hodgkins’ distinctive combination of pinks and greens in this painting is highly characteristic of her unique and ‘different palette’ that she used during this period. It is probable that the scene depicted is one of a series of paintings that Hodgkins completed of Geoffrey Gorer’s cottage in Bradford-on-Tone, Somerset. Hodgkins returned regularly to Gorer’s cottage after she met him in the late 1920s.

The painting clearly shows the development of her style in the twenties - ‘The naturalistic content of her work is still present, but the picture surface is more important than an illusion of atmosphere and space.’ The landscape has been completely flattened and divided into clear segments of contrasting colour. The large tufts of grass, curving trees and small gates combine to produce a semi-abstract pattern, and heighten the sense of spatial ambiguity. The success of the painting lies in Hodgkins’ mastery of subtle tones and gestural line, which unifies the composition and provides an inviting, harmonious aspect.

In a letter to Duncan MacDonald in 1934, Hodgkins wrote of her method of painting while staying at the Gorer cottage, as a combination of the natural and the imagined, stating, ‘I go out into the fields every day, among the red cattle, strike an attitude and paint a composite picture – a sort of wish fulfilment of a picture.’

_
Written by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: Watercolours from Europe. 2008

Literature

Frances Hodgkins: Watercolours from Europe, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2008), p. 5


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Frances Hodgkins

Spanish Landscape c.1935

Watercolour, 37 x 48.5 cm
Signed lower right
Inscribed No. 12 Spanish Landscape


To Rée Gorer, 7 December 1935. Tossa de Mar, Gerona, Spain.

My Dearest Rée

It seems years since I came to Spain or, since I corresponded with my friends …

When I first came the country side did not appeal to me & I collected a lot of notes & sketches, casually, without bothering much about what might come through – it is only this last 6 weeks I have settled down to serious work ...

There is plenty of material here to paint. I am working up courage to start on figures – The life of the village is rich & dramatic. The little shops at night, enchanting like Dutch interiors gone Spanish – and the gilded altars in the village churches, vulgar & gaudy, but in the dim light, like a Rembrandt – one could go on, “likening” things for a long time –

With financial aid from Dorothy Selby and Rée Gorer, Frances Hodgkins left England for Tossa de Mar, Spain in September 1935. The quaint Catalonian village, situated half way between the city of Barcelona and the French border, instantly appealed to Hodgkins with its medieval architecture and Mediterranean climate. Immersing herself in the local culture, Hodgkins enjoyed the village atmosphere taking time to paint both indoor and en plein air. In a letter to Dorothy Selby (November 1935) she writes:

I paint during the morning – dividing my time inside & outside the Studio – this is the very charming part of a place like Tossa. So small & simple one can step into the old streets and have a look round – make a quick sketch & back to the Studio – repeating this little stunt perhaps 2-3 times during the morning – no fatigue – no complications –

Hodgkins spent a period of six months living and painting in Tossa de Mar. She sent a parcel containing 2 watercolours as a gift to her friend Rée Gorer & her son Geoffrey in December 1935. A further 9 gouache paintings were sent in February 1936 to Duncan Macdonald for exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery, London. Hodgkins had great hopes for these works, writing to Duncan Macdonald (February 1936):

You will see that I have put a large amount of Frances Hodgkins into them, even into the joyless marrows, and I do hope that you will not say this woman’s work is not worth a penny a day to me, I am sure you will realize that I have had to adapt myself to local conditions & do the best I can.

The illustrated work, Spanish Landscape, is an excellent example of the influence of the Catalonian region on Hodgkins’ work. Painted en plein air, Hodgkins captured the regions striking landscape with swift brushstrokes and vivid use of colour. Her fluidity of line is evident in the composition as she sketched the bare forms of the scene before her; capturing the cresting peak of the mountains and the dry riverbed creeping through this idyllic scene. Swathes of bright pink, purple and green washes of watercolour are added in a bold, uncompromising hand. The work has a sense of immediacy about it. The quick application of paint and the bold use of gesture single this painting out as a fine example of the artist’s working method. Painting out of doors, capturing the scene in front of her in a bold impressionistic style, Hodgkins explores her own take on British Modernism, cementing her status as one of the countries leading contemporary artists of that period.


Exhibited

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016

Provenance

Private Collection, U.K.

Bonhams, London July 2002


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Frances Hodgkins

Arrangement of Jugs, 1938

Lithograph, 45 x 60 cm
Signed lower right


To Myfanwy Evans, 15 May 1940. Studio, West St, Corfe Castle, Dorset.

I was made so happy by what you & John wrote about me and I owe you very particular thanks – it gave to my show all the success I could hope for it ….

In May 1940 Hodgkins thanked writer and art critic Myfanwy Evans and her husband, the painter John Piper, for their encouragement and support. Two years earlier she had produced a lithograph, her only surviving print, which was commissioned by a venture founded by John Piper and Robert Wellington, and which aimed to make quality and reasonably priced original prints available to the public. The actual printing was carried out by Curwen Press, in Plaistow, East London, where the artists drew their images on the lithographic stones and were able to receive technical assistance from Piper. Hodgkins’ Arrangement of Jugs was one of fifteen prints in the second series, launched in March 1938, which also included images by Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Piper. Although an edition of 300 was planned, only about half this number was achieved due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Further to this, few of the completed lithographs were signed by the artists.

Arrangement of Jugs represents an extension of Hodgkins’ interest in the possibilities of colour and form. In addition to a trio of jugs (blue, red and green), this composition includes the two familiar yellow ceramic vases and a modernist green glass vase, a lamp and another less easily identifiable object. As with the earlier watercolour of the same name, elements are reduced to simple forms or outlines, with areas of colour which may relate only loosely to the objects they are describing. As before, the overlapping of objects and the suggestion of their placement on a flat surface adds a sense of depth to the composition. Otherwise, the objects appear to ‘float’ free from the surface of the paper, much of which is left untouched, while in parts – such as on the foreground glass ornament – it shows the granular effect characteristic of the lithographic process. John Piper was complimentary about Hodgkins’ print, considering it ‘the best in the series.’ The artist herself was also pleased with the project – finding it ‘interesting and remunerative as a side line’ – and no doubt especially so when the series, which included her print, was purchased by the British Museum.

In January 1938 Hodgkins exhibited nine works at the Lefevre Galleries, and in September her lithograph, Arrangement of Jugs, was shown at the Leicester Galleries. During the year she also showed single works or small groups of works at three other galleries (including one in Manchester), and two paintings at the Salon d’Automne in Paris in November, but her health was suffering and she feared ‘a complete breakdown’.

To William Hodgkins, 15 October 1938. Worth Matravers, Dorset.

…. Another bit of news is that Peep Bowes only daughter has been married… As Alice was supposed to have artistic leanings I sent her a picture – or rather an auto-lithograph, a new process which a group of 20 artists, myself included, has just produced & exhibited at the Leicester Galleries with very great success. My lithograph was one among a set chosen by the Brit: Museum. I find it interesting & remunerative as a side line to my other work.

_
Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

London, U.K. Leicester Galleries. September 1938

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016
 

Literature

I Buchanan, E Eastmond and M Dunn, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press 2001) p. 150

Janet Bayly (editor), Frances Hodgkins: Kapiti Treasures (Mahara Gallery, Waikanae 2010) p. 36

Provenance

Published by Contemporary Lithographs Ltd, London 1938
 

Illustrated

E.H McCormick, Portrait of Frances Hodgkins (Auckland University Press 1981) p. 123

I Buchanan, E Eastmond and M Dunn, Frances Hodgkins: Paintings and Drawings (Auckland University Press 2001) p. 151

Janet Bayly (editor), Frances Hodgkins: Kapiti Treasures (Mahara Gallery, Waikanae 2010) p. 3


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Frances Hodgkins

Houses and Outhouses, Purbeck c.1938

Oil on canvas, 80 x 115 cm
Signed lower left


 


Houses and Outhouses, Purbeck, is one of Frances Hodgkins’ key late works. Exhibited to acclaim at the time, it was described by the artist as ‘unquestionably my high spot’. This painting was first shown in the 1941 Leicester Galleries exhibition, which included other major late oils and the recently discovered gouache Methodist Chapel. The exhibition was reviewed by John Piper, who extolled the artist’s ‘songlike expression’ and focused on her achievement as a colourist, borrowing terms, as others have, from music: ‘…it means talking of scintillations and explosions, chromatic runs and exciting leaps…’. But, acutely, he also described the work as an example of her ‘war art’, not because the work was of ‘tank traps’, but because ‘she has found…subjects that are symbolic enough: 'railed-in areas, concentration camps, of rusty milk cans, farm implements in disuse or dereliction, a man plucking fowl in an outhouse’. This interpretation places this and other related works by Hodgkins squarely within the context of neo-romanticism.

Piper was a central figure within neo-romanticism and his importance for and support of Hodgkins has been recognised. But his debt as an artist to her has perhaps been underestimated. From the rich painterly qualities of a work like this (once owned by Piper) it is clear that inspiration could run both ways. Houses and Outhouses, Purbeck verges on abstraction, divorced from the descriptive. In her 1946 Retrospective Exhibition this painting hung alongside Dairy Farm - a work depicting bright orange milk-churns. Both large oils see the artist, in her seventies, producing a significant contribution to British neo-romanticism through a sensuous and idiosyncratic painterliness.

_
Iain Buchanan, Elizabeth Eastman and Michael Dunn, Frances Hodgkins, Paintings and Drawings. pp. 168-9


Exhibited

London, U.K. The Leicester Galleries, Paintings and Watercolours. October 1941 (No. 10)

London, U.K. The Lefevre Gallery, Retrospective Exhibition. November 1946 (No. 20)

London, U.K. The Art Council of Great Britain, Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Frances Hodgkins (1869 – 1947). 1952 (No. 14)

London, U.K. Tate Gallery and The Arts Council of Great Britain, Ethel Walker, Frances Hodgkins, Gwen John – Memorial Exhibition.  7 May – 15 June 1952 (No. 71)

Dunedin, N.Z. Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Virtue and Beauty: Frances Hodgkins' Landscape of Change. April 2002  

Auckland, N.ZJohn Leech Gallery, Opening Exhibition. April 2001 (No. 5)

Auckland, N.ZJonathan Grant Galleries, Frances Hodgkins. The Expatriate Years. April 2012. Sold to The Northern Club

Provenance

John and Myfanwy Piper, Henley, Oxfordshire, England, 1941 – 1997

Private Collection, Dunedin, New Zealand

The Northern Club, Auckland, New Zealand, 2012
 

Literature

'Frances Hodgkins', Horizon Vol. 4 No. 24, December 1941. Ill. p. 414

Linda Gill (editor), Letters of Frances Hodgkins (AUP, 1993) p. 519

'The Life and Art of Frances Hodgkins', The Listener, 21st November 1946. Ill. pp. 705-6

Arthur R. Howell, Frances Hodgkins, Four Vital Years. Cat. p. 121 & 123

Iain Buchanan, Elizabeth Eastman and Michael Dunn, Frances Hodgkins, Paintings and Drawings. Cat. p. 168, Ill. p. 169


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Frances Hodgkins

Welsh Emblem, 1942

Gouache on paper, 37 x 54 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins & dated 1942 lower right


To Dorothy Selby, c.16 September 1942. Dolaucothy Arms Hotel, Pumpsaint, Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire, Wales.

I am here & really resting brain and body …. We are over 400 ft. up & the air is like wine flavoured with conifer pine – rather too many conifers….. To me it is paradise after Corfe. Fine country which will be better still in week or so – harvest in full swing.

Following the declaration of war on 3 September 1939 the now 70-year-old Frances Hodgkins continued to live in the Dorset village of Corfe Castle, but proximity to the English Channel meant local towns were now targets for enemy bombing. At the same time, tanks and military convoys trained nearby and often passed through the village, convincing her to seek the solitude of Geoffrey Gorer’s cottage in Somerset. She also spent time in Dolaucothy in Wales, and on 31 October 1942 wrote to Eardley Knollys, owner of a gallery in Knightsbridge, London, enthusing over her recent work:

I have done masses of work in between showers of torrential rain, in and about the woods & river of Dolaucothy and have even seriously made pictures of the funny chimney ornaments, which do so lend themselves to decoration – I love them –

At Dolaucothy Hodgkins felt inspired and enjoyed a burst of productive energy. By December she was back at Corfe Castle, and a selection of 15 paintings resulting from her Welsh trip were shown at Lefevre Galleries in March-April the following year. Alongside her exhibition, Gouaches by Frances Hodgkins – A New Series of Gouaches Painted during 1942-3, the gallery mounted a small collection of modern French painting, Picasso and his Contemporaries. The gallery had not previously shown the School of Paris with an English artist, and Hodgkins was the first to be so honoured. She hoped to be in London for the private view – ‘I look forward to seeing my wall of 15 - & more especially Picasso & his merry men’ – but unfortunately was too ill with bronchitis to attend. However, there was much positive response to the exhibition, as from artist John Piper and critic Eric Newton, and the artist herself was able to report that it ‘had gone wonderfully’.

Whereas many of Hodgkins’ previous solo exhibitions included earlier as well as recent work, the fifteen paintings in her 1943 show were both recent and in the same medium. The selection therefore had a sense of cohesion, characterised by fluid brushwork, abstracted forms and light-coloured passages over larger and darker areas. Welsh Emblem may have qualified as one of the more enigmatic works in this collection, with the composition swirling around a patterned tablecloth and a bowl containing potatoes, beetroot and other garden produce, and autumn leeks which allude to the title. Other elements may be less easy to identify, but Hodgkins’ confidence and dynamic approach are plainly obvious.

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Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

London, U.K. Lefevre Gallery, Gouaches by Frances Hodgkins painted during 1942 - 1943. March - April 1943 (No. 4)

Manchester, U.K. City of Manchester Art Gallery. Pictures by Frances Hodgkins. August – September 1947 (No. 39)

U.K. Arts Council of Great Britain Touring Exhibition, sponsored by Isle of Purbeck Arts Club. Swanage, Bournemouth, Totnes, St Ives. March – May 1948 (No. 45)

London, U.K. Tate Gallery and The Arts Council of Great Britain, Ethel Walker, Frances Hodgkins, Gwen John – Memorial Exhibition. 7 May – 15 June 1952 (No. 100)

Auckland, N.Z. Auckland City Art Gallery, Frances Hodgkins Leitmotif. November 2005

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016

Provenance

O. Raymond Drey Esq.
 

Literature

Arthur R Howell, Four Vital Years (Rockliff, London 1951) pp. 102, 122, 127, 128

Roger Collins and Iain Buchanan, Frances Hodgkins on Display 1890 – 1950, (Hocken Library 2000) pp. 82, 91, 93


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Frances Hodgkins

The Farm Pond, 1943

Gouache on paper, 47 x 66.5 cm
Signed & dated 1943


Illustrated

Ascent. Frances Hodgkins, Commemorative Issue (Caxton Press with QE II Arts Council, Christchurch 1969) p. 14

Provenance

Professor Peter Millard, Saskatoon, Canada


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Frances Hodgkins

The Water Mill, 1943

Gouache, 50 x 38.5 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower left & dated 1943


To Duncan Macdonald, 22 May 1943. Studio, Corfe Castle, Dorset.

‘I need a little more time to finish the Gouaches I have for you – April-May months in spite of the idyllic weather conditions have been distracting & dithering beyond works . . .

Towards the end of 1942, Frances Hodgkins retreated to her studio at Corfe Castle near Wareham in Dorset to complete a series of works that were due for exhibition with the Lefevre Gallery, London. It is during this time that Hodgkins was selected to be included in the Penguin Modern Painters series written by Myfanwy Evans and edited by Sir Kenneth Clark. Hodgkins was delighted by this prospect and wrote; 'As far as pictures can be described no one could do it better'. The book was delayed by the war, but was eventually published in 1948.

On the 18th of January 1943 Frances Hodgkins sent a ‘roll’ of her most recent gouache paintings to A. J. McNeill Reid of Lefevre Gallery, London. Reid had arranged for Hodgkins’ works to be exhibited the previous November, but Hodgkins was unable to make the deadline even though she planned to create works 'mainly in gouache, 2 sizes – uniform sizes as much as possible'. The delay in the production of her works could be attributed to the fact that her studio roof collapsed in June 1942 and was not repaired until later that year. She did, however, eventually complete nine gouaches, which she sent to Reid on the 18th of January. A further six gouaches were sent on the 21st February and she instructed Reid to put together a 'small, compact show of 15 gouaches that she hoped would be contemporary & recent & fresh'.

One of the works painted during her time at the studio at Corfe Castle was The Water Mill in 1943. This work depicts Hodgkins’ ability to produce a certain sense of ambiguity in her work where objects in the fore, middle and background appear to co-exist on a single plane. The dominant form of the mill is given a position of authority in the composition, but it does not dominate the entire arrangement. Instead it is harmoniously integrated into the lush vegetation of the surrounding landscape. The fluidity of Hodgkins’ brushwork, which is characteristic of her later work, is evident in this piece, thanks in large part to the choice of medium: gouache. The use of vivid yellow highlights, electric blues and vibrant greens contrast with the sombre planes of soft greys and blues and allow for both a sense of dynamism and for one of controlled calm.

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Written by Grace Alty & Jonatrhan Gooderham
Edited by Jemma Field


Exhibited

London, U.K. The Lefevre Galleries, Gouaches; by Frances Hodgkins. March - April 1943

Manchester, U.K. City of Manchester Art Gallery, Pictures by Frances Hodgkins. August - September 1947 (No. 34)

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years. April 2012
 

Literature

Arthur R. Howell, Frances Hodgkins: Four Vital Years (London, 1951), p. 110 (listing Jane Saunders as the owner); No.5, p.122 & No.34, p.127.

Roger Collins and Iain Buchanan, Frances Hodgkins on Display 1890 – 1950 (Auckland, 2000), pp. 82, 91.

Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2012), p. 21

Provenance

Collection: Miss (Dorothy) Jane Saunders UK. Thence by descent

Original hand written label attached verso: Water Mill by Frances Hodgkins lent by Jane Saunders, 12 Victoria Road.

Fallowfield, MCc. Original exhibition label attached verso: 34. City of Manchester Art Gallery, 15167.


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Frances Hodgkins

Country Colour, Purbeck, 1944

Gouache on paper, 50 x 65 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins & dated 1944 lower right


To William Hodgkins, 21 June 1944. Corfe Castle, Dorset.

Friends here are good to me & the country is lovely & this bit of coast line in Dorset the loveliest in the world … I am in fairly good health – and am feeling the benefit of regular meals - and rest. Most of us are looking rather wan – one needs to be pretty strong headed to survive a 4yrs. war such as this war …..Have plenty of work to do for the Galleries – I am deluged with invitations commissions etc – They all want Frances H now.

In 1933, after returning to London from her time on the Continent, Hodgkins moved to Corfe Castle in Dorset. She was attracted there by ex-pupil, friend and potter Amy Krauss, and would retain this connection with Dorset for the rest of her life. Corfe Castle is situated on a peninsula known as the Isle of Purbeck, which would feature in the title of a number of paintings executed by Hodgkins in the mid-1940s.

Although Hodgkins had moved to the relative isolation of Corfe Castle, she could not avoid the effects of the war. Her 1940/41 oil painting Houses and Outhouses, Purbeck included ‘tank traps’, and other symbolic references such as farm implements in states of disuse or dereliction. This highly abstracted composition also incorporated various ambiguous shapes, and was considered a major contribution to the British neo-romanticism of the day.

Some three years later, in 1944, she took as her subject the courtyard next to her cottage in the village of Corfe Castle and produced a trio of paintings, two of which are in New Zealand collections: The Courtyard in Wartime (The University of Auckland Art Collection) and Purbeck Courtyard, Early Afternoon (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa). The former is the most dramatic of these works; quite aside from the manipulation of the formal elements, an unsettlingly theatrical atmosphere suggests the night raids by enemy aircraft.

In late June 1944 Hodgkins wrote to her friend Dorothy Selby about the ‘devilry’ or war and its impact on her at Corfe Castle:

The village is stiff with troops mostly Canadians & the motor traffic is terrific…. The planes overhead bringing back wounded from Normandy have scared all art out of me – I simply cannot paint. This lovely weather makes it easier. The sun has been pouring down on us & we are literally cooked.

Country Colour, Purbeck was painted at about the same time as the courtyard works, and may be interpreted as an entirely different response to the war. A more conventional composition executed with a naïve charm, it presents a lone cow standing before a straw-covered clump of mangelwurzels (cultivated root vegetables), while the background is dominated by a large white double-gabled structure surrounded by the artist’s now familiar calligraphic trees. In contrast to the frightening intensity of The Courtyard in Wartime, Country Colour, Purbeck is positively bucolic, an essay in simplicity and productivity beneath a blue Dorset sky. In terms of style and subject matter it is similar to the earlier (1938-1940) Cheviot Farm (Manchester Art Gallery), in which a left- facing cow stands amongst farmyard buildings and machinery. Hodgkins’ interest in agricultural themes was also apparent in the 1943 gouache The Root Crop (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki), which has been described as a ‘twilight fantasy’, and bears more relation to the intensity of the courtyard series than the apparent innocence and pastoralism of Country Colour, Purbeck.

Hodgkins exhibited the present work, and others, at The Lefevre Gallery in April 1945 and received a positive review in The Spectator. Although Country Colour, Purbeck was not singled out, artist Michael Ayrton wrote that these paintings demonstrated that the artist had ‘reached a very complete and final maturity’.

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Written by Richard Wolfe
Research by Jonathan Gooderham


Exhibited

London, U.K. Lefevre Gallery, Recent paintings by Francis Bacon, Frances Hodgkins and Henry Moore. April 1945 (No. 9)

Paris, FR. British Council Fine Arts Department Exhibition, Quelques Contemporains Anglais. 1945 (No. 8)

Prague, CZ. British Council Fine Arts Department Exhibition. 1946 (No. 9)

Auckland, N.Z. Jonathan Grant Gallery, Frances Hodgkins: A Singular Artist. July 2016

Provenance

Collection: Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903 – 1989) London

Estate of Colin Horsley OBE (1920 – 2012) Isle of Man
 

Literature

Arthur R Howell, Four Vital Years (Rockliff, London 1951) p. 100

Roger Collins and Iain Buchanan, Frances Hodgkins on Display 1890 – 1950 (Hocken Library 2000) pp. 83, 84


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Frances Hodgkins

Corfe Castle Village, 1945

Watercolour and gouache, 44 x 60 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower left & dated 1945


To A.J. McNeill Reid, 20 December 1934. Highlands, Corfe Castle, Dorset.

I was feeling very much under the weather both physically & otherwise but have picked up wonderfully since coming here and am now doing quite good work under the spell of the place & general atmosphere of calm & simplicity . . .

Frances Hodgkins first moved from London to Corfe Castle in 1934. Corfe Castle is situated on the Isle of Purbeck, in Dorset, and is a historic site known primarily for the ancient castle ruins that sit on top of a hill immediately behind the village. Hodgkins relocated to Corfe Castle in an attempt to take ‘refuge’ in the countryside and to reconnect with her friend from St Ives, the potter Amy Krauss. Hodgkins would return to the village regularly and in 1936 she set up a small studio, in a converted chapel, in West Street.

Hodgkins eventually made Corfe Castle her permanent home in 1940 when she could no longer travel back and forth to Europe. She believed that Corfe was the place for quiet ones. Living in Corfe Castle gave her the opportunity to work 'moderately hard, moderately successful in a landscape of steep valleys speedy rivers & castles looking like their own mountains.'

Hodgkins spent the first months of 1940 working on twenty-six works for the Biennale di Venezia and also for her exhibition at Lefevre Gallery, London, in April of that year. A selection of Hodgkins’s works was also included in the British Council exhibition in Paris in 1945, Quelques Contemporains Anglais, to celebrate the liberation of France. Corfe Castle was not always idyllically peaceful. With the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-1945), England’s coastline was severely battered by enemy fire and nightly German air raids. Hodgkins was greatly affected by the stress of war conditions. She wrote: 'the planes overhead bringing back wounded from Normandy have scared all art out me.'

A key part of her work during this period was the continued influence of French art and the increase of a neo-romantic tendency in her work. The present painting, Corfe Castle Village was inspired by the local landscape around her cottage and studio. Painted in gouache in predominantly greens and blues, with dashes of bright yellow, Hodgkins makes a play on that recurring theme in her late work: the still-life combined with a landscape view. Here however, she blends architectural features into the local landscape so that roofs of houses are just seen peeking out from the richly planted terrain. The central undulating hill accompanied by a wealth of vegetation that is mapped out in a variety of strokes, produces a painting that is quietly contemplative yet deeply arresting. In regards to Hodgkins’ approach to painting, her intentions and desires, it is the artist’s own words that offer the best description: 'Myself, I would say that I, my medium and my subject act & react to produce new & vital creations &, if possible, achieve a perfect balance –.'

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Written by Grace Alty & Jonathan Gooderham
Edited by Jemma Field


Exhibited

London, U.K. Leicester Galleries, Artists of Fame and Promise. July - August 1945 (No. 145)
 

Literature

Roger Collins and Iain Buchanan, Frances Hodgkins on Display 1890 – 1950 (Auckland, 2000), p. 84.

Frances Hodgkins: The Expatriate Years, Jonathan Grant Galleries (Auckland 2012), p. 23

Provenance

Leicester Galleries, London, purchased by Ian Phillips Esq, 1945

Christies, London, November 1999

Private collection, Nelson