Frances Hodgkins

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947

Untitled Portrait

  • Marjorie Bassett Bequest, 1964
  • Watercolour
  • 790 x 540 x 35mm
  • 69/55
  • 1900

It is thought that this is a portrait of Frances Hodgkins’ older sister, Isabel, who was also an artist and exhibited widely with Art Societies throughout New Zealand. This work shows the confidence and skill Hodgkins acquired as a watercolourist. The transparent washes of colour define the forms of the hat, face and dress with minimum overlays or reworking. Hodgkins was born in Dunedin and was initially trained by her father, the part-time watercolourist William Mathew Hodgkins (1839 -1898). In 1893 Frances took classes with Girolamo Nerli (1860 -1926) and from 1895 to 1896 studied at the Dunedin School of Art. In 1901 Hodgkins left to study at the London Polytechnic. In 1903 she exhibited at the Royal Academy, the first New Zealander to have the honour of being ‘Hung on the Line’. Living in Paris between 1908 and 1912, Hodgkins taught at the Académie Colarossi, the first woman on the staff there. She eventually settled in England. She exhibited with many art groups and galleries, including the Lefevre Galleries in London from 1932.

earlier labels about this work
  • Painted with loose, fluid washes of colour, this portrait is probably of the artist's sister Isabel. Frances traveled with her mother to Wellington in December 1899 to visit her married sister Isabel Field. The confidence and skill of the trained artist is visible in the manner with which the transparent washes of colour define the forms of the hat, face and dress with minimum overlays or reworking. The lighter areas are created from zones of unpainted paper, the visible and the muted margins skillfully deployed and the shadows and reflected tones on the skin handled with an expertise which was later to make Frances Hodgkins New Zealand's most celebrated expatriate artist. (Label date unknown)