Portraits and self-portraits 1939-52

In 1941, Rita Angus had a brief love affair with the composer Douglas Lilburn. After losing their child in a miscarriage, she vowed that she would never remarry but remain a woman artist. She wrote to Lilburn, ‘I am quietly regaining my virginity because I wish to serve the arts.’

This was a highly productive period for Angus. Friends and family remained important to her, and she painted many fine portraits of them.

Angus also made numerous self-portraits, in which she scrutinised her features and identity with a new intensity. She exhibited few of these sensitive works, and all of them remained in her studio, unsold, at her death. For Angus, art was often a very private activity.

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