A Pacifist Vision 1938-55

Rita Angus was a pacifist and deeply opposed to World War II. She refused to work in a factory to support the war effort and was eventually prosecuted in court. Her pacifism had a profound influence on her art, especially her Goddess paintings, such as Rutu.

The 1940s were an unsettled time for Angus, marked by personal troubles and illness. She became more solitary, determined to devote her life to painting. In 1943, her father, concerned about her well-being, bought her a house in Christchurch. The place became a sanctuary for her.

This section – the largest in the exhibition – includes landscapes, nature studies, portraits, and self-portraits. At its heart are the goddess paintings, in which Angus expressed her vision of a harmonious future.


Journeys of the late 1930s and 1940s
Tree  1943

Journeys of the late 1930s and 1940s

Rita Angus was a keen traveller, finding new subjects and fresh inspiration in her journeys. ‘Live in a suitcase,’ she advised... more>
Portraits and self-portraits 1939-52
Portrait of Douglas Angus  1940

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... more>
Pacifism and the goddesses 1944-53
Rutu  1951

Pacifism and the goddesses 1944-53

In the mid-1940s, Rita Angus was prosecuted by the Industrial Manpower Committee for refusing to work in a factory... more>
Working from nature 1949-58
Central Otago  1953-56/1969

Working from nature 1949-58

Quiet, sustained contemplation of nature was central to Rita Angus’s work. Her friend Bill Sutton remembered... more>
All artworks are reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus.