Blesmes near Chateau Thierry (The Mame Valley)

Watercolour
32.5 x 41 cm
Signed lower right

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Rhona Haszard was one of a number of expatriate female artists whose work significantly influenced the visual arts in New Zealand during part of the twentieth century. Others included Frances Hodgkins, May Smith, Maud Burge, and Gwen Knight.

Haszard was born in Thames, New Zealand, as one of five children. Her father, Douglas Morpeth Haszard, was a surveyor, who worked for the Lands and Survey Department, later becoming a Commissioner of Crown Lands in 1910. Due to her father’s work, Haszard moved often living in Auckland, Christchurch, Hokitika and Invercargill.

At the age of 18, Haszard enrolled at the Canterbury College School of Art, now the Ilam School of Fine Arts, joining a set of female artists such as Ngaio Marsh, Evelyn Page, Rata Lovell-Smith and Olivia Spencer Bower. She was taught amongst others by Archibald Nicoll, the newly appointed head of the school.

In 1922, she married Ronald McKenzie, a teacher and fellow student. However, in 1925, she ran off with ex-British Army officer Leslie Greener, abandoning the previous marriage. This was met with much controversary forcing the couple’s relocation to France in 1926. They settled in Paris and studied briefly at the Académie Julian. Haszard continued to paint landscapes and exhibited at the Paris Salon. In 1927 Haszard exhibited with the Society of Women Artists in London, Cairo and New Zealand. The pair travelled extensively throughout Europe before settling in Alexandria, Egypt to teach at Victoria College.

In 1928 Haszard seriously injured her back which prompted her to seek medical treatment in London. Haszard returned to Alexandria in 1930 to continue teaching. In 1931 whilst sketching in one of the towers she fell and was tragically killed. An exhibition of her work had opened the night previously. In 1933 Leslie Greener toured a collection Haszard’s paintings around New Zealand which was met with considerable success.