Frances Hodgkins (1869–1947) remains New Zealand's best known and much loved expatriate artist. Her artwork and the story of her development as an artist are central to the story of New Zealand art. She was born in Dunedin, but in the second half of her life developed an increasingly strong connection with Wellington and Kāpiti.
Frances Hodgkins’ older sister Isabel (1867-1950), also a very good artist, married Kāpiti farmer, landowner and politician Will Field (1861-1944). Frances Hodgkins first left New Zealand in 1901 to make her life and develop her career in the artistic centres of Europe. She made three return trips to visit family between 1903 and1912, during which she painted local landscapes and portraits, such as The Goose Girl, 1905. Frances also often sent paintings back to family to look after or for exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia. These became the basis of the Field Collection of forty-four artworks which remain in Kāpiti.
Frances was very close to Isabel, felt a romantic attachment to Kāpiti Island and the landscape here, and said that Waikanae had become ‘ancestral’ for their family after their beloved mother Rachel died and was buried here in 1926. Some years after Frances Hodgkins’ death in England in 1947, her ashes were brought home and interred in the Field family plot in Waikanae Cemetery.
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