Rita Angus

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1908, d.1970

Untitled [Pot Plant]

  • Watercolour
  • William A. Sutton Bequest, 2000
  • 678 x 576mm
  • 2000/10

“I live out my own world & follow in the lives of Frances Hodgkins […] and other women painters,” wrote Rita Angus. One of those painters was fellow Waitaha Canterbury artist Margaret Stoddart. Like Margaret, Rita developed a deep appreciation of botanical subjects in her work. Although both artists are known for their landscapes, their approach to watercolour couldn’t be more different; Margaret’s lively impressionistic approach contrasts with Rita’s work, which is rich with the detail usually reserved for a botanical artist illustrating a scientific journal.

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Rita Angus painted many still life subjects in watercolour, often focusing on flowers and potted plants. Her interest in simplifying forms into geometric planes shows the influence of the French artist Paul Cézanne, for whom elements of design and composition were paramount. Typically, Angus has handled the washes of colour with great skill, layering them to produce subtle differences in tone. She has incorporated landscape elements of a bay and headland in the background, (probably Wellington Harbour) effectively offsetting the pot plants, giving the composition a real sense of depth. Angus was born in Hastings. In 1927 she began studies at the Canterbury College School of Art until 1933. She then worked as an illustrator for the Christchurch Press Junior. By 1955 she had settled in Wellington and in 1958 was awarded an Association of New Zealand Art Societies Fellowship, which allowed her to travel to England and Europe. There she studied old masters as well as contemporary art. She died in Wellington. (Label date unknown)