Frances Hodgkins

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947

Phoenician Ruins

  • Gift of Mr and Mrs M. Ash, England, 1980
  • Gouache on paper
  • 610 x 770mm
  • 80/17
  • c. 1935

“I am very interested in the new movement as all artists must be,” declared the Dunedin-born, Paris-based Frances Hodgkins to a Sydney reporter in 1913, when questioned about the latest developments in European art. To an Adelaide reporter she mused: “What the final result will be I cannot say. The futurists think it will end in pure abstraction, but that is so far ahead that one cannot view it with anything like seriousness.”

By the 1930s Hodgkins was herself riding the wave of modernism: while she had maintained a flexible grip on figurative representation throughout her career, her work had become increasingly abstract. This dynamic, cubist-inspired composition in gouache, a thick opaque paint, is believed to have been painted in Tossa de Mar, an ancient fishing village on the Costa Brava in Spain, where she set up a studio for several months in 1935. By this time, Hodgkins’ home base was in England, where she had established a significant reputation. (In Modern Times, 18 December 2015 – 11 September 2016)

earlier labels about this work
  • It is probable that Frances Hodgkins painted this work in the Spanish village of Tossa de Mar, on the Costa Brava, where she established a studio for a few months. The Phoenicians were masterly seafarers and traders throughout the Mediterranean but were conquered by Persia in the 6th century B.C.

    While there Hodgkins began experimenting with gouache, an opaque watercolour, and continued to use it throughout the remainder of her career.

    Hodgkins was born in Dunedin. Initially trained by her father, the part-time watercolourist William Matthew Hodgkins, from 1895 to 1896 she studied at the Dunedin School of Art. In 1901 she left to study at the London Polytechnic. In 1903 Hodgkins exhibited at the Royal Academy, the first New Zealander to have the honour of being “hung on the line”. Living in Paris between 1908-1912, Hodgkins taught at the Académie Colarossi, the first woman on the staff there. She eventually settled in England and exhibited with many art groups and galleries. (Label date unknown)