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Record Image
Hodgkins, Frances Mary (New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947), Artist
"Circus Van's Arriving in Dinan, Brittany" formerly known as "The Village Street"
Circa 1903?
171 x 114 mm sight size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Bequeathed 1980 by Mrs Diana Gertrude McClymont.
Village streets and squares with their tall trees, dappled light and shade, patient horses, carriages, lumbering carts and pedestrians strolling about offered a wealth of subjects for sketching. And in the marketplaces Frances and Dorothy Richmond had their favourite stallholders. ‘Two days ago we made our farewells to our beautiful Arlesian friends – in the market where we paint nearly every day. We had a touching and imposing scene. To the poulterer who was our best & most intimate friend we presented a photo of ourselves with a suitable inscription … we were grateful for little attentions in the way of chauffrettes to keep our feet warm, cups of black coffee on cold days & various little kindnesses. Her profession was the one thing against her. She was always killing a bird or an animal of some description but with such a light heart and deft fingers we forgave tho’ we did not approve…'(1)
And from Dinan in July 1902: ‘I have been very industrious up at 6. & out working by 7.30. The French are early birds & the streets are just as busy then, in fact busier than later in the day. Dinan is a first rate place – a variety of everything – old streets, peasant women, fruit stalls, river scenery, feudal castles and 2 “dashing” cavalry regiments…'.(2)
Pasted onto the back of Village Street is an alternative, and more evocative title: Circus Vans Arrive, Dinan, Brittany. Frances makes no mention of a circus in her surviving letters, but perhaps the cavalry regiments needed entertaining and the gaily striped red and white cover on the cart does suggest something more lively than a load of onions or cabbages. The donor of Village Street was the niece of a friend of Frances Hodgkins, Margaret (Daisy) Fitchett, who studied at the Julian School in Paris and returned to Dunedin in 1895 to teach painting.

1. Letter to Isabel Field, 6 November 1901, Gill, p 105
2. Letter to Rachel Hodgkins, 28 July 1902, Gill, p 133

not on view

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