Frances Hodgkins - Family & Friends

15 April - 3 June 2018


Sunday 6 May 2018 4pm


Art historian Pamella Gerrish Nunn speaking on Frances Hodgkins for the Friends of Mahara and supporters of the Mahara Gallery redevelopment project. RSVP to the gallery would be appreciated for catering purposes.






Frances Hodgkins – Family & Friends features art made by Frances Hodgkins (1869-1947) and four other artists important in her life and artistic development.


These were her father William Mathew Hodgkins (1833-1898), a passionate amateur painter who was also a dedicated art patron and significant figure in the development of the arts in Dunedin; her older sister Isabel Jane Field (1867-1950) who painted landscapes and still life in an attractive traditional style; her colourful Italian tutor Girolamo P. Nerli (1860-1926), who became close to the Hodgkins family, who collected and promoted his work, while he played a decisive role in Frances Hodgkins’ development; and her dear friend and fellow traveller-artist in Europe, Dorothy Kate Richmond (1861-1935).


This small exhibition also spans her early years. It includes a painting by her father of Ravensbourne House, Dunedin, where Frances Hodgkins grew up; a study of two children which is the earliest dated work by Frances Hodgkins in the Field Collection, made when she was 22 using local family friends as models; and a watercolour portrait she made of her sister two years after Isabel married Wellington lawyer Will Field.


The Hodgkins family roots shifted from Dunedin to Wellington after William Mathew died in 1898 and Frances left for her first trip to Europe in 1901. The new family nexus developed around their mother Rachel who had also moved to Wellington, and Isabel, Will and their five children.


Frances remained strongly connected to her family for the rest of her life, even after she remained in Europe from 1913 until her death in 1947.


The third Frances Hodgkins painting in this show depicts a young girl in a late summer New Zealand garden. It is thought to represent her niece Girlie, Isabel’s eldest daughter. It is not known if the garden is in Wellington, where the Fields had a house on The Terrace, or Kāpiti, where they had several farms.


The landscape by Isabel Field depicting Ngarara Lagoon and Kāpiti Island behind clouds was probably painted on their farm, also named Ngarara. The ashes of Frances Hodgkins now lie nearby in a Hodgkins/Field family plot on a knoll in Waikanae Cemetery, which was originally part of Ngarara Farm.


We are very grateful for the support of the Field Collection Trust, Avenal McKinnon and a private lender. We also gratefully acknowledge the Deane Endowment Trust for their support of ongoing research and exhibitions over 2018 - 2019 into Frances Hodgkins and the Field Collection as we prepare to house the whole collection here on a permanent basis.