This chalk drawing, a self portrait, portrays Frances in her 70s.
Frances Hodgkins: Self Portrait
Medium: Chalk on paper.
Size: H: 495mm x W: 320mm x D: 1mm.
This work forms part of what is being referred to as 'The Hidden Portfolio' of Frances Hodgkins.
At the end of 2014 a second-hand dealer in the Weymouth area of southern England discovered what he referred to as a bunch of 'tatty old pictures' among items in a local house clearance.
Little was he to know that this 70 year old folder of mouldy, deteriorating works would challenge some of the previously held ideas about one of New Zealand and Britain's most respected artists, Frances Hodgkins.
Frances was a prolific letter writer and regularly wrote to her family in New Zealand throughout her 45 years based in Britain and Europe. In a number of letters she refers to the portfolios of work that both her father, William Hodgkins and benefactor Dr Scott kept hidden behind large pieces of furniture.
The folders contained potentially objectionable works (nude studies) that both men had secured away. The works discovered in Weymouth contain subjects deeply personal to Frances, or of an experimental nature, and were not intended for public consumption.
It is thought that Frances too hid this folder away where it was discovered sometime after her death in 1947, and taken to nearby Weymouth where it stayed until its eventual discovery.
Six of the works in 'The Hidden Portfolio' are signed in Hodgkins’ hand and the remainder can be attributed to Frances by virtue of subject or style.
Frances Hodgkins dedicated her entire life to becoming the best artist she could be, sacrificing material possessions and relationships in her pursuit of that goal. She produced, and indeed destroyed, a prolific amount of work, suffered from poor physical and mental health and became one of the most influential artists of her era.
NB: It is prudent to take into account that there is an ongoing debate concerning the Hidden Collection, we would strongly encourage anyone interested in these works to correspond, via The Gallerist, with the collector to draw a personal conclusion regarding the provenance of the collection.
This work can be viewed on Waiheke, Auckland, New Zealand.