From Frances Hodgkins to William Hodgkins, 12th November 1931, 6 Fitzroy St, London WC2
“When did I last write? April? An awful long time ago – I was in France. I stayed there till mid August, more or less in company with Maud & George Burge, who were, owing to bad times, economising (if it was not really so serious some of the richer of one’s friends’ economies would make one laugh) in one of the less fashionable of the Riviera resorts – St Tropez. A famous artists place but now grown pretentious & expensive, tho’ still very lovely.”
Maud Burge (née Williams) was a New Zealand artist who painted primarily in oils and watercolours. Her work was heavily influenced by her studies and travels throughout Europe.
Burge was born in Wellington, the third of thirteen children. Her grandfather, Henry Williams, translated the Treaty of Waitangi from English to Te Reo, and his wife Marianne Williams was a pioneering educator within New Zealand. Her other grandfather, William Beetham, painted portraits.
Burge was heavily influenced by the work of New Zealand artist James Nairn, who was renowned for portraits and landscapes painted using the en plein air approach. Around the turn of the century she painted portraits at Charles Frederick Goldie’s studio in Auckland. Under his tutelage Burge painted Ina Te Papatahi of the Ngāpuhi iwi, who was one of Goldie’s earliest models.
In 1909 she married George Aylesford Burge and the couple left New Zealand for Europe soon after. Burge studied in France and was a pupil of English watercolourist Fred Mayer. She spent time painting in locations such as Concarneau, Saint-Tropez, Morocco and Dalmatia depicting beach and market scenes. Burge exhibited with the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts under her maiden name, Williams, from 1883–1906; and then from 1926, under her married name.
Frances Hodgkins most likely met Maud through her sister, Isabel Field, in Wellington. In 1924, Hodgkins described Maud, then living in Montreuil, “as a charming but changeable woman”. Hodgkins painted in the Burges’ garden in Saint-Tropez in 1931 and joined them the following year in Mallorca and Ibiza. Maud accompanied Hodgkins on several painting expeditions in Ibiza along with fellow artists Gwen Knight and May Smith.
In 1937 the Burges returned to New Zealand, settling in Taupo and then later at Cole Street in Masterton. Maud Burge died in 1957 at the age of ninety-two and is buried in Masterton Cemetery.
In 1988 an exhibition titled Frances Hodgkins – Maud Burge: Two Expatriates: an Exhibition of Paintings & Drawings was held at the Hawkes Bay Art Gallery.