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Hodgkins, Frances Mary (New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947), Artist
The Market Place, France
watercolour and body colour
354 x 260mm sight size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Bequeathed 1956 by Mr Percy Hodgkins, the artist's brother.
Painting a quiet model seated indoors was one thing, but successful pictures – ones that met her own standards and might attract buyers – needed to transport viewers into a different and more vibrant foreign world. And that meant being outside in the streets and squares where the business of the town took place. Frances’s letters contain many references to the difficulties of painting out of doors in small town marketplaces - where a lady artist at work excited local curiosity and comment and her concentration was continually interrupted. Nonetheless she persevered and for these two works she seems to have positioned herself behind the women selling their produce, barricaded from unwanted attention by trestle tables and masses of piled up vegetables. With rapid, fluid brushstrokes she skilfully suggests the colours and shapes of awnings, dresses, caps and aprons; the texture of a cane basket; the delightful bulky beauty of the produce – and the energy, noise and smells of a sunny market day. She is clearly delighted by the activity around her and in paintings like these gives no sense of the challenges she faced in transferring a glimpse of it all to paper.
‘Dont think that because my work looks easy that it is so – remember what Sheridan said when a friend complimented him on the easy style of his books – “Then all I can say [is] that easy reading is damned hard writing” Those market scenes are the outcome of great mental strain, with nerves at a tension & eyes bewildered with an ever moving crowd, & ones senses all alert and linx [sic] eyed for effects & relations one thing to another.'(1) When her brother Percy married in 1904 Frances gave him this painting and in 1956 Percy gave it to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
1. Letter to Isabel Field, 30 September 1902, Gill, p 138

not on view

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