Story: Painting

Frances Hodgkins, 'The pleasure garden' (2nd of 3)

 Frances Hodgkins, 'The pleasure garden'

This watercolour was painted by Frances Hodgkins in the summer of 1932. By that time she had been living permanently in England and Europe for almost 19 years. She had first left New Zealand in 1901, and returned twice in the effort to establish herself as a painter, but finally decided that the small market for art and the provincial attitudes of the country made it too difficult. In England she became part of a circle of innovative artists such as painters Graham Sutherland and Ben and Winifred Nicholson, and sculptor Barbara Hepworth. This work is a good example of her painting in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Her subtle, fluid colours and the way she dissolved the barriers between the interior foreground and the background scene, and between still life and landscape, distinguished her style. Her departure from conventional subject matter and proportion was still too much for people in New Zealand. In 1948 the Canterbury Society of Arts decided to purchase a Frances Hodgkins work. Six paintings were sent out, but all were rejected by the society. Public subscription then enabled this painting, which was one of the six, to be purchased; but then the city council turned down the offer. Modernist art was not acceptable in the city's art gallery. It was not until 1951 that a new council finally accepted the painting.

Using this item

Christchurch Art Gallery - Te Puna o Waiwhetu
Reference: 69/08
Watercolour by Frances Hodgkins

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Painting - Problems of isolation, 1900 to 1940', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/45880/frances-hodgkins-the-pleasure-garden (accessed 23 July 2019)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 22 Oct 2014