Mother and Child, Jean and Anton Jones with Portrait of Fred Jones behind by Rita Angus

Rita Angus’s portrait of her sister with baby son refers to historic representations of the Madonna and Child. Jean Jones looks maternally down on Anton, who stares directly out, communicating with the viewer. Their setting, with toys on the ground and a painting of Fred Jones, husband and father of the sitters, on the wall behind, however, firmly grounds the painting in a domestic interior.

During her career, Angus executed many portraits, including self portraits. She insisted that these works were only given or sold to the people for whom they were made. Ron Brownson notes that ‘She would not paint portraits in a public, non-personal context.’ (Intimate Portraits, 2005)
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