Self-portrait (with moth and caterpillar)

Rita Angus1943

Te Papa

Te Papa
Wellington, New Zealand

Rita Angus began this unfinished self-portrait shortly after moving to her cottage in Clifton, Christchurch. For her, this was a period of growth and transformation – symbolised by the moth and caterpillar on her shoulder.

The Māori woman represents the figure of Spring. Māori subjects rarely appear in Angus’s work. When they do, Angus often transforms them into symbols that are personal to her – unlike her Pākehā subjects, who she gives specific identities.


  • Title: Self-portrait (with moth and caterpillar)
  • Creator: Rita Angus
  • Creator Lifespan: 1908 - 1970
  • Creator Nationality: New Zealander
  • Creator Gender: Female
  • Creator Death Place: Wellington
  • Creator Birth Place: Hastings
  • Date Created: 1943
  • Physical Dimensions: h350 x w254 mm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Medium: pencil and watercolour on paper
  • Painter: Rita Angus
  • Credit Line: Gift of the Rita Angus Estate, in Memory of William McAloon 2022. © Reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus

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