Terrace Garden, Ibiza 1933
Watercolour & gouache on paper, 54 x 39 cm
Signed Frances Hodgkins lower right
Lefevre Gallery, London
Dame Rebecca West (Cicily Isabel Andrews 1892 – 1983), London (Purchased from the above)
Christie’s, London, 4 November 1983
Elizabeth Steiner, Auckland (Purchased from the above)
London, Lefevre Gallery, New Watercolour Drawings, October – November 1933, No. 5
Arthur R. Howell, Frances Hodgkins: Four Vital Years (Rockliff, London 1951) p. 113, p. 118
Roger Collins and Iain Buchanan, Frances Hodgkins on Display 1890 – 1950 (Hocken Library 2000) p. 68
Frances Hodgkins database (FH1040) www.completefranceshodgkins.com
From Frances Hodgkins to Karl Hagedorn, 29th January 1933, Ibiza, Balearic Islands Spain
“… I must say in this clear ivory light every common object looks important & significant – I wonder what you would make of subjects here – things appear in stark simplicity minus all detail – nothing corked up (bouchée) Or hidden as in grey, or brown light of the North. Of course, later on, this intense sunlight will convert colour & form into absolute negation but at the moment there is complete loveliness. The pale coloured flat roofed houses without windows give a blind restful feeling, of immense space.”
Frances Hodgkins arrived in Ibiza, Spain, in December 1932, remaining on the island for over six months. Once temperatures improved, Hodgkins regularly climbed to the walled citadel of Dalt Vila that towers over the township below. From this vantage point she had numerous views on hand, and equally importantly, the advantage of solitude, allowing her to concentrate on her work.
A favoured location was a rough path that led away from the citadel along the ridge overlooking the sweeping bay of Figueretas. As well as making studies of the windmills that lined the path, she pushed further afield, discovering a narrow set of precipitous steps leading towards the water, with little houses clinging to the hillside either side. She painted the lowest house on at least three occasions, focusing on the walled courtyard at the front. Each was painted from a different angle.
In Courtyard, Ibiza (FH1026, University of Auckland) Hodgkins paints a bird in a cage, basking in the sun, while in Ibiza, Balearic Islands (FH1018, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa), a cat stalks along the wall nearest the sea, animating the scene. The same courtyard is referred to in the present watercolour Terrace Garden, Ibiza 1933, but Hodgkins has moved down a step or two so that the end wall stands out against the water. It is both a subtle and masterful composition in which nothing is left to chance. The diagonals of the wall and its crenelated outcrop is mirrored by the ochre wall of the house, while the undulating line of roof tiles on the roof’s edge leads our eye across the sweeping shoreline to the line of hills beyond, punctuated by the waving verticals of a tree whose branches stand out against the sky. The rocky shoreline around the peninsula of Ibiza is covered with prickly pears and aloes that thrive in its salty environment. While it is impossible to identify the plants Hodgkins has painted, she translates their forms into a series of fluid, rapidly painted lines against the ochre dabs of the rocky wall.
In February 1934, two months after her major exhibition had concluded, Hodgkins was invited by Duncan Macdonald of Lefevre Galleries to lunch with the famous writer Rebecca West, the purchaser of Terrace Garden, Ibiza. Hodgkins replied, “… It sounds most terribly attractive meeting Rebecca West… – but I simply cannot promise to coming, feeling as I do at my very lowest ebb of intelligence…” Although reluctant, she almost certainly succumbed, and West later acquired a second watercolour, Bradford-on-Tone c.1937.
West’s married name was Cicily Andrews, née Fairfield, but she is more generally known by her publishing name of Rebecca West. She was the mother of Anthony West, who with his wife Kitty West, were influential supporters of Frances Hodgkins, and were depicted in Hodgkins’ painting Double Portrait No. 2 (Katharine and Anthony West)(FH1119) held in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collection.
– Mary Kisler