Early work 1929-36

‘My way was clear’

Rita Angus studied at the Canterbury College School of Art from 1927 to 1933. Her conservative teachers encouraged accurate drawing rather than experimentation, so Angus had to learn about modern art from books and magazines. Landscapes were an early interest, and many of her works derived from sketching trips around Canterbury.

Angus developed rapidly as an artist. She painted her first important pictures, such as The Aviatrix, when she was still a student. By 1936, when she painted Cass, Angus had found the sharp, clear style that she would retain throughout her life.

Angus married fellow artist Alfred Cook in 1930, aged 22. The marriage was a spur-of-the-moment decision, she later said, and the couple separated in 1934 on the grounds of mutual incompatibility. To support herself, Angus then worked as a commercial artist. She continued to sign her pictures ‘Rita Cook’ until the 1940s.

All artworks are reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus.