Gwen Knight (1908-1974)
Spring in the mountains
Collection of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, purchased with Dugald Henderson Bequest funds, 1978
Registration no. 1978-0037-1
Reproduced with the kind permission of Mrs Gabrielle Carmen Lees
Contemporary to Untitled [Pink Tree, Village and Bay] [BC015], and also illustrates the almond blossom. Almonds are the first trees to flower in the European spring and are a symbol of regeneration to many artists, notably Vincent van Gogh. To artists recently arrived from the other side of the world they would have seemed particularly astonishing and to paint them an affirmation of their new life in Europe at the centre of all that was new in art.
[Pink Tree, Village and Bay]
Landscape view over village. Left foreground tree with pink shapes indicating foliage. Midground three rural buildings and a second tree. Background hills and trees, possibly water.
LL F Scales (date illegible)
Alternative title, Pink Tree and Village, taken from the exhibition Flora Scales at The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatū, Nelson, New Zealand, 2018.
Originally owned by Betty Gordon from Havelock North, New Zealand, who was a friend of Flora Scales's.
Landscape with planes of colour, cubistic architecture and atmospheric perspective.
Possibly painted in 1931 or early 1932, under the tuition of E. D. Kinzinger, before Scales left to briefly visit New Zealand. Certainly painted before June 1932. From October, during the winter of 1932-1933, Scales was in Munich, Germany, at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art.
Scales described the delight of travelling south to St Tropez by train in the 1930s to Linda Gill, 27.08.1976, “...through the most wonderful landscape – the houses are pink and they rise straight out of the grapevines which are sometimes quite yellow.”
A few years earlier the English painter Vanessa Bell had also described the dramatic contrast between Northern Europe and the South of France, and the joy of living and working in the "Midi", in a letter to her sister, Virginia Woolf, 05.02.1927, “Painting is a different thing here from what it can be in the winter in England. It’s never dark even when the sky is grey. The light...is perfect and even now one could often work out of doors, if one wanted to. It makes such a difference to be sure one won’t be suddenly held up in the middle of something by fog or darkness. Also the beauty is a constant delight. The people are very friendly and helpful and living is very cheap...it seems more and more ridiculous for painters to spend half their lives in the dark.” – excerpt from Spalding, Frances, Vanessa Bell: Portrait of the Bloomsbury Artist, Tauris Parke Paperbacks, London, England, 2016, pg 216
While in St Tropez, France, Scales met artists Frances Hodgkins and Gwen Knight. The Evening Post reports: “Maude Burge and Flora Scales were staying last summer  at St Tropez in the South of France with Frances Hodgkins and Gwen Knight of Wellington and all were attending a summer school there. Mr & Mrs Burge, both well known in New Zealand, entertained the artists at their villa.” – ‘Valuable Pictures’, The Evening Post, 25 January, 1932.
Excerpt from An accompanied solitude, an essay by Boris Kalachnikoff, January 1991, “[Flora Scales] had an artist friend, Miss Knight, with whom she had warm and sincere conversations and exchanged paintings in a friendly way, in the sunny countryside of St Tropez.”
Excerpt from Letters of Frances Hodgkins, ed. Linda Gill, Auckland University Press, New Zealand, 1993, pp 441-442, letter 438 to Dorothy Selby from the Hotel Sube in St Tropez, 25 June 1931, from St Tropez, France, “There is a Professor from Munich here who is making them stretch their brains. He is very able – and a good lecturer – young and nice looking with a charming pyjama-ed American wife…His principles are sound – even if one dislikes his sort of art.” Gill’s footnote no. 39 for this letter states that the Professor was Edmund Daniel Kinzinger.
These reports suggest that Scales knew, and possibly received instruction from, Kinzinger in St Tropez before arriving at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art, Munich, Germany, in October 1932.
Apparently it was Gwen Knight who advised Scales to travel to Munich for a longer and more concentrated period of tuition at the Hans Hofmann School where she herself had spent six months, 3 October 1929 - 2 April 1930.
An accompanied solitude, an essay by Boris Kalachnikoff (January 1991) kindly translated from French by Jenny Kotlarevsky