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Record Image
Hodgkins, Frances Mary (New Zealand, b.1869, d.1947), Artist
An Old Salt
1900
watercolour
488 x 418 mm sight size
21-1970
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1970 by Miss Brenda Bell.
Around the end of October 1900 Isabel and her son Jack were both unwell and Frances wrote to apologise for keeping Rachel in Dunedin. ‘I wish I could spare Mother to you for a month or two, but I feel if she leaves me now that I will not feel equal to getting my Art Union together. As it is, I feel so thoroughly worn out with the long strain of teaching & painting that it takes me all my pluck to start painting again for it, and if it is to come off at all it must be ready by Dec …’(1)
She had already completed An Old Salt and it was shown at the Otago Art Society’s exhibition which opened on 10 November 1900 (Frances was now on the Hanging Committee). Petrus van der Velden’s oil painting Old Jack, purchased by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 1893, is in a similar vein, but Frances’s elderly sailor is characteristically benign and contemplative, whereas van der Velden’s ‘old Jack’ directs an intense and piercing gaze towards the viewer. An Old Salt was highly praised and singled out as ‘one of the best executed pictures of the whole collection … . It is in the “impressionist” style and shows the hand of the true artist – not the mere picture painter.’(2) The true artist was now on the very brink of her great adventure – in two months’ time she would sail for Europe.

1. Letter to Isabel Field, c. 31 October 1900, Gill, pp 66–67
2. The Triad, 1 December 1900, p 8

not on view

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