The Little Wine Shop c. 1919

44 x 31 cm
Signed lower left, Frances Hodgkins
Inscribed below mount ‘The Little Wine Shop
Inscribed verso ‘No.10 The Little Wine Shop
Mr W. J. P. Hodgkins Mr M. Hodgkins
From the collection of Mrs W N Pharazyn (neé Field, a niece of Frances Hodgkins)
Grosvenor Gallery, London October 1919 International Society 26th Exhibition, London 1919

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From Frances Hodgkins to Rachel Hodgkins, c. Nov 1917, The Wharf Studio, St Ives

… Am going to spend the week end at Penzance with the Hellyers who have taken the Bolithos’ big old Tudor House & are giving a house warming. The only fly in the ointment is that I have so few clothes – attrition has gone on steadily since the outbreak of war’.

In September 1914 Frances Hodgkins was based in Le Faouët in Brittany, but decided to return to England and settle in St Ives, Cornwall at the outbreak of war. She remained in the small fishing village for most of the war, apart from brief summer stays in Chipping Campden, Exeter, Burford, Porlock and Penzance in south-west England. She hoped to establish herself as an art tutor and continue the success she achieved in Paris with her School for Water Colour. Indeed, her first comment about her new Porthmeor studio was ‘that it will do very nicely for a Class – not pretty but useful’.

By January 1915 she had established her studio and wrote to her mother, ‘I start teaching next week with three pupils and more to come … I have one local pupil – a nice woman who is going to be a great help to me in many ways – she has a glorious collection of old china & has given me a carte blanche to borrow it when so disposed’. Hodgkins’ initial flurry of activity was disrupted by war time restrictions and coastal sketching bans.

Severe food shortages and a decline in student numbers during the winter of 1917-18 placed significant strain on her. Things perked up in March 1918 when three students,‘all from NZ, blew in the Studio’, one of which was Beatrice Wood. With war over and the sketching ban lifted, there were plenty of artist visitors to St Ives interested in lessons. She left St Ives at the end of 1918 and returned to her studio in London.

The work illustrated here belongs to a select group of watercolours painted by Hodgkins during post-war uncertainty and experimentation. Other works in this series include, Seaside Lodgings (Private collection) and My Landlady (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki), both exhibited alongside The Little Wine Shop at the International Society exhibition in the autumn of 1919.

Hodgkins lightness of touch employed here belies the intensity of detail observed and the highpoint of depiction is the appealing little dog doing its best to pass unnoticed. The guiding inspiration for this watercolour seems to have been the work of Hodgkins’old favourites Edouard Vuillard and Walter Sickert, but the end result is very much her own. Hodgkins’progression from impressionism to post-impressionism, whilst in St Ives, and her interest in decorative details are clearly visible in this composition. This work did not reappear at exhibition after 1919, as its original companions did, and was instead acquired by Hodgkins’ brother William Hodgkins, who held the work in his collection until his death in 1945.

Written by Jonathan Gooderham & Grace Alty
We are grateful to Dr Pamela Gerrish Nunn for her assistance in compiling the catalogue entries.