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Douglas Lilburn 1944-50
oil on canvas, 343 x 243 mm
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, on loan from the Rita Angus Estate
This case includes fragments of a painting that Rita Angus had high hopes for – a portrait of Douglas Lilburn.
Angus began the portrait in 1944 and worked on it for years. Eventually, she abandoned it – possibly because she realised she could never complete it to her satisfaction – and cut up the canvas for reuse. She obliterated Lilburn’s face with white paint.
To the right of the fragments is a sketch that Angus included in a letter to Lilburn in 1943. In it, she depicts herself as a naked goddess-like figure on Sumner beach, Christchurch.
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