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Record Image
Hodgkins, Frances Mary (New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947), Artist
Woman and Child
Circa 1912?
watercolour and charcoal
475 x 459 mm sight size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Bequeathed 1956 by Mr Percy Hodgkins, the artist's brother.
The mother and child group is a recurring motif in the long history of image-making – a symbol of the mystery of life continuing from generation to generation. In the Christian West images of the Madonna and Child dominated art for a thousand years and yet artists often stumble in their attempts to convey the powerful bond between the two. As more women painters emerged into professional life at the end of the nineteenth century, many were encouraged to concentrate on intimate, domestic scenes – the traditional domain of women. French painter Berthe Morisot (1841–1895) and American Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) both specialized in this area. Mothers and children were a regular subject for Frances Hodgkins, if not her dominant concern, and in this work she achieves a tender masterpiece. The composition revolves around a single moment – when lips brush a baby’s smooth, soft cheek and all emotion condenses into a rush of affection and sensual delight.

not on view

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