To Market: Representations of the Marketplace by New Zealand Expatriate Artists 1900-1939
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
New Zealand expatriate artists working in England, Europe and North Africa in the early twentieth century painted a wide variety of market scenes. The subject features in the oeuvre of Frances Hodgkins, Maud Sherwood, Sydney Lough Thompson, Maude Burge, Owen Merton, Robert Procter and John Weeks and made a significant contribution to their artistic development. Like their contemporaries in the artists’ colonies and sketching grounds of England and Europe, New Zealand artists were often drawn to traditional rural and fishing villages and sought to capture the nostalgia of the ‘old world.’
Early exploratory works by New Zealand expatriates have often been dismissed merely as nostalgic visions of colonials, without any real artistic merit. This research offers a re-evaluation of these works, recognising their value as transitional works which illustrate New Zealand expatriate artists experimenting with early modernist trends, as well as revealing prevalent contemporary tastes among the New Zealand public. This study offers a comprehensive examination of the market theme and highlights the aspirations and achievements of New Zealand expatriate artists. This is reflected in both their choice of subjects and in the way in which these were depicted. A key finding of this research is that New Zealand expatriate artists developed a distinctive response towards the market subject.
The vibrant atmosphere and activity of the market and colourful views of canvas booths, awnings and costume provided the perfect means of expression for these artists to explore a variety of painterly concerns and techniques, among them plein-air and impressionist painting, watercolour techniques and a modern treatment of colour and light. The hypothesis of a ‘female gaze’ is explored with specific reference to depiction of the market subjects by Frances Hodgkins and Maud Sherwood. Placed within a wider art historical context of images of female market vendors, their market works offer an original interpretation of the female milieu of the European market. Finally, the expatriates’ vision of the exotic and colourful markets in North Africa and Egypt is investigated. They offered an alternative response to more traditional Orientalist interpretations and their Maghrebian explorations were the catalyst for key stylistic developments in colour and form.