Rita Angus

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1908, d.1970

Mountains, Cass

  • 1936
  • Watercolour
  • Presented by Robert Erwin in memory of Lawrence Baigent, 1985
  • 502 x 626mm
  • 85/21
  • View on google maps

Rita Angus never forgot the experience of sketching at Cass, an isolated place nestled in the high country of Te Waipounamu that she visited on a 1936 painting trip with artists Louise Henderson and Julia Scarvell. Although her oil painting of its isolated railway station (currently on display nearby in From Here on the Ground) is more famous, this dazzling watercolour is a vivid record of the exhilaration and inspiration she felt when working in this landscape. A small hut in state of disrepair is dwarfed by the hills, mountains and sky that surround it, all of which seem alive with colour and presence. Angus later recalled how reading notes she made during that trip took her back to "those days of clear blue green skies, sun setting behind the dark hills, cold shadows... They were happy days. I long for a later return into the mountains."

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

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • In the vast emptiness, 8 January - 21 August 2016

    “I was glad to see this painting again for a few minutes. […] I was ‘knocked out’ by the clear admission of truth. I am amazed that at one time (years ago), and in about three to four hours, I had the power & courage to paint Cass.”

    —Rita Angus

  • Cass is 116 kilometres north-west of Christchurch, a small unpopulated place where travellers passed in trains or stopped off briefly in transit. Rita Angus has caught this sense of isolation with a small, solitary hut in a state of disrepair set against dominating landforms. Angus has a unique style of realism that uses clearly defined shapes, blocks of strong colour and a clear, pervading light. She always searched for ways in which her own experience of an area and its essential nature could be combined in her painting. 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)