Explore The Painting ‘Fay and Jane Birkinshaw’ By Rita Angus

Fay and Jane Birkinshaw, oil on canvas, 1938

Te Papa

with Curator Modern Art Lizzie Bisley

Fay and Jane Birkinshaw (1938) by Rita AngusTe Papa

Rita Angus painted these sisters in 1938

They are the daughters of her friends Margaret and Frank Birkinshaw.

Fay and Jane Birkinshaw (1938) by Rita AngusTe Papa

The girls wear matching – but not identical – clothes.

The folds of the fabric have been carefully painted

as has the light bouncing off their hair.

Geometric shapes show the contours of the girls’ faces

and shadows across their foreheads.

Their eyes have been painted with incredible precision.

Angus painted the sisters with their favourite toys.

She dressed the dolls herself, draping them in fabric before she started to paint.

A tea-set, and a biscuit, hover in the background.

The girls' mother thought the painting was garish. When the family returned to England, she tried to leave it behind. A friend ran to catch the boat, carrying the painting. Tempted to drop it into the water, Margaret Birkinshaw instead asked for it to be returned to Angus.

Fay and Jane Birkinshaw, Rita Angus, 1938, From the collection of: Te Papa
Show lessRead more
Credits: Story

Text by Te Papa curators Lizzie Bisley and Hanahiva Rose, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2022.
All images reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps