The harbour of Hônfleur, in the Calvados region of northwest France is the setting for this tranquil scene by American artist, Anna ‘Nan’ Hope Hudson. The composition is dominated by the calm surface of the water, in which horizontal dabs of colour capture areas of light and shade and the translucency of the water. Along the horizon line is a parade of buildings, the windows and lights of which suggest shops, cafés and bars.
When the Government Art Collection purchased this work in 1980, it was titled Harbour, Northern France, Dieppe. At the time, this attribution was conceivable as Dieppe is close to Château D’Auppegard, the grand mansion that Hudson and her partner and fellow American artist, Ethel Sands, had bought in 1920. Ardent Francophiles, the couple lovingly restored the house and divided their time between England and France for many years.
In 2015, Lady Suzanne Ricketts, wife of former British Ambassador to France, and Dr Wendy Baron, former Director of the Government Art Collection, identified the correct location of the scene as Hônfleur, over 100 km west of Dieppe. After looking at historical photographs of the French port, Lady Ricketts recognised parts of the buildings as depicted in Hope Hudson’s painting. The Collection is grateful to Lady Ricketts and Wendy Baron for undertaking this research and benefitting the wider knowledge of Hudson’s painting.
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