Frances Hodgkins

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947

The Dead Robin

  • Purchased, 1958
  • Watercolour on paper
  • 270 x 212mm
  • 69/9
  • c. 1888

This is a copy of a painting of the same name by the Victorian watercolourist Frederick Walker (1840-1875). Copying from original paintings was a common practice with art students and Walker’s painting was owned by Frances Hodgkins’ aunt and uncle, Isabella and Alexander Carrick. Hodgkins became a skilled watercolourist but this student work is stiff and in an amateur academic style, where she has tried to accurately record the figure and bird. There is no suggestion of the looser brushwork and more vibrant, highly keyed colours of her mature work. Hodgkins was born in Dunedin. After being taught painting by her father and studying at the Dunedin School of Art, in 1901 she went to Europe. In 1903 Hodgkins was the first New Zealander to be ‘hung on the line’ at the Royal Academy. Although she did come back to New Zealand occasionally, she made her life in Europe. She lived in Paris, at St. Ives in Cornwall, London and Dorset, holding solo shows at many prestigious galleries.