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Record Image
Hodgkins, Frances Mary (New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947)
Maori Girl on a Boat
1899
watercolour
347 x 226 mm paper size
8-1955
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1955 by Mrs Erlton Wilson.
Between 1896 and 1901 Frances Hodgkins made at least 26 watercolour portraits and studies of Maori, usually women and children, and the last of them was done after she had arrived in Europe.(1) Her letters tell of regular sketching trips to Moeraki, north of Dunedin and to other Maori settlements around Otago. Maori Girl seems to be the work Frances showed in 1896 at both Canterbury and Otago annual exhibitions, with the title ‘She has two eyes, so soft and brown’, and priced fairly high at £7-7-0. It seems that the work did not sell since she subsequently gave it to a family friend, Mrs J.W. Cargill, whose daughter left it to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. By the time she left New Zealand Frances had a reputation for such works. In December 1900 The Otago Witness noted at the Art Society’s annual exhibition a number of ‘studies of dusky belles which Miss Hodgkins always pourtrays [sic] with conspicuous success.’(2)
Eric McCormick commented that for Frances, Maori may have been a local substitute for the peasant figures in traditional clothing so often depicted in European paintings of the time, but that nonetheless her models wore their own everyday clothing with long skirts and shawls, they were not ethnographically styled for the painter and ‘she painted them as vital human beings, never as archaeological specimens nor as relics of a dying race’.(3)

1. E. H. McCormick, Works of Frances Hodgkins, pp 140-163
2. The Otago Witness, 26 December 1900, p 12
3.. E. H. McCormick, The Expatriate, p 41

not on view

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