‘Fresh’ might not be the first word that comes to mind when considering paintings from early last century, but the works of Frances Hodgkins are strikingly so. Born in Dunedin in 1869, Hodgkins went on to become a leading figure in British Modernism. Her approach to colouration and her attitude to painting are as vibrant and unique now as they were then.
Inspired by her peripatetic lifestyle, the Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery tracks the influence of place on her development as a modernist painter; through early 20th century France, England, Morocco and Spain. This comprehensive survey features three Hodgkins paintings on loan from the University of Auckland Art Collection.
Since the 1960s, the University has had a committee and budget dedicated to the acquisition of artworks as a research and teaching resource, and to enrich campus life.1 The calibre and significance of works in the Art Collection result in numerous loan requests each year, for local and international exhibitions.
During his tenure here, art historian Eric McCormick purchased on behalf of the Collection two works by Hodgkins from Eardley Knollys, a friend of the artist. Acquired in 1974, they were the watercolour Courtyard in Ibiza and The Courtyard in Wartime, one of a group of oils painted in the summer of 1944 which show the courtyard of the artist’s studio at Corfe Castle, Dorset.2 Hannah Ritchie and Jane Saunders was purchased during the 1980s by Professor of History Keith Sinclair while he chaired what is now known as the Art Acquisitions Committee.3
Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys is a rare opportunity to see the works from our Art Collection in the context of the artist’s oeuvre, giving viewers the chance to understand and appreciate more fully the breadth and depth of Hodgkins’ artistic practice and highly individualised vision of the world.
Lara Thomas, University of Auckland Art Collection, Cultural Collections
1 University of Auckland Art Collection. (n.d.) About the collection. Retrieved from https://artcollection.auckland.ac.nz/about/
2 Tyler, L. (6 May 2011). From the Collection. UniNews, 41(6), p.6.
3 Correspondence, 1982-83, Art Acquisitions Committee.