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Hodgkins, Frances Mary (New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947), Artist
Dordrecht
Circa 1908
watercolour on paper
680 x 455 mm sight size
1-1913
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1913 by public subscription.
Frances travelled to Dordrecht in Holland in May 1907, found comfortable lodgings at Pennock’s Hotel, and apart from a few weeks back in England at the end of the year, stayed there for twelve months. As well as teaching her pupils she had excursions to Amsterdam to see the Rijksmuseum where ‘We spent all day with the pictures – ancient and modern, & saw many of my old friends again’,(1) and to Haarlem to see paintings by Frans Hals. ‘ – they are like Sargent in their wonderful freshness & vigour – or rather he is like Hals – frightfully human & living men – such painting – a tingling vividness about them that sets one on fire – I remember disliking them when I first saw them – I am wiser now’.(2)
She turned down an invitation to spend a lively Christmas with a large family in England and instead returned to solitude, sleet and snow in Dordrecht, but had the comfort of a stove in her room. ‘It was quite a new experience, a northern winter. The canals all froze over & the children brought out their sledges & everybody went about muffled up in furs… I have been painting furiously out the window … One big sketch I am rather pleased with.'(3) This may be the big sketch – a fluid and watery scene capturing a fleeting moment. The Christmas snow has melted and some blue sky is just appearing. The children have put their heavy jugs down among the puddles to look across the expanse of the main canal where a crowd has gathered under the ornate sixteenth-century cupola of the Alva Gate. ‘Everybody thinks my work has made strides this year – I have slogged. I do want to make all these years worth while and make you all proud of me.'(4) She had every reason to be pleased with this powerful work and in 1913, when she showed it at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, it was purchased by public subscription.

10. Letter to Rachel Hodgkins, 3 August 1907, Gill, p 210
11. Ibid, pp 210–211
12. Letter to Rachel Hodgkins, 29 December 1907, Gill, p 223
13. Ibid

not on view

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