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Rita Angus Traditional Paintings

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This issue of stamps featured the works of Rita Angus whose meticulous compositions in oil and water-colours earned her the reputation as a leader of the modern school of New Zealand painting.

Issue information

Rita Angus, born in Hastings, and received her early arts skills training at Palmerston North before moving to Christchurch where she attended Diploma classes at the Canterbury School of Arts from 1927-1931. She lived in Christchurch until 1954 when she moved northwards to settle in Wellington, leaving it for one year in 1958 to study and work in Europe. Throughout her career she made frequent painting trips throughout New Zealand, especially to Central Otago and Hawke's Bay.

In the early part of her career she often depicted aspects of Wanaka, a region of particularly serene beauty in New Zealand's South Island. It has been suggested that she turned to watercolour during the war years because paintings in that medium were more saleable when people had less money and also because of a shortage of imported artists materials, but the fact is that the artist was equally at home with both watercolours and oils using them alternatively until the end of her career.

Rita Angus died in 1970 at the age of 62 years following a lifetime devoted to art. In a newspaper obituary Mr Melvin Day, the Director of the National Art Gallery, stated "Her influence on painting in this country was wholly beneficial, not only because of her achievement in art, but above all for her artistic integrity and independence". But perhaps the last word should be left to the artist. In the Year Book of the Arts, 1947, Rita said her aim was "to show to the present a peaceful way, and through devotion to visual art to sow some seed for possble maturity in later generations."

This stamp issue featured four stamps with her artwork and the issue coincided with the first major touring exhibition of works by the artist, which was organised by the National Art Gallery in Wellington. The four paintings chosen to feature on the stamps came from different stages of the artist's career, spanning forty years, in the medium of watercolours and oils. A presentation pack was also issued on 27 April and featured the four stamps. The pack was done in a vertical format, which comformed to the stamp issue. A self-portrait of Rita Angus featured on the front cover.

Product Listing for Rita Angus Traditional Paintings

Image Title Description Price
  Single Stamp

Single 24c 'Boats - Island Bay' gummed stamp.

The painting on this stamp depicted Italian fishing boats at Island Bay, Wellington and was painted from 1962 to 1963. It is an oil painting 610mm x 610mm. Here the artist emphasised the complex pattern of shapes and colours created by moored boats. They were sketched first and then later painted in oils.

Single Stamp

Single 30c 'Central Otago Landscape' gummed stamp.

The painting on this stamp depicted a 'composite' landscape made up of separate views recorded first in watercolours and then in oils. It was painted in 1954/1965/1969, and is an oil painting 524mm x 636mm. Scenes depicted include Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range, and the country around Cromwell and Alexandra. 

  Single Stamp

Single 35c 'Wanaka Landscape' gummed stamp.

Painted in 1939, the watercolour depicted on the 35c stamp is 228mm x 276mm. Vivid colours and clearly defined froms were the hallmarks of Rita Angus's style and she was also able to paint with quite remarkable delicacy. This was very appaprent in the landscape of Wanaka featured on this stamp.

  Single Stamp

Single 45c 'Tree' gummed stamp.

Rita Angus made numerous watercolour studies of flowers and plants in the 1940's and 1950's. The painting of a tree featured on this stamp was from a tree that grew in her sister's grden at Greymouth, on the west coast of the South Island. it was painted in 1943, and is a watercolour 300mm x 286mm.

  First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $1.42
  Presentation Pack Presentation pack containing four stamps from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps. $2.20


Stamp Bulletin

This stamp issue first appeared in New Zealand Post Stamp Bulletin No. 29 in April 1983.

Acknowledgments: Bulletin scanned and provided by John Biddlecombe of the New Zealand Society of Great Britain. Their web site offers further information useful to those interested in the stamps and postal history of New Zealand. Link:

Technical information

Date of issue: Stamps and first day covers 6 April 1983; Presentation pack 27 April 1983
Number of stamps: Four gummed stamps
Denominations: 24c, 30c, 35c and 45c
Stamps and first day cover designed by: D A Hatcher, Auckland, New Zealand
Printer and process: Leigh-Mardon, Australia by lithography
Stamp size and format: 29mm x 32mm (vertical)
Paper type: Unwatermarked
Number of stamps per sheet:  100 
Perforation gauge: 14.5 x 14.5
Special blocks: Plate/imprint, positional or value blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least 6 stamps of each denomination
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 30 April 1984. The presentation pack remained on sale until 30 September 1983.
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