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'Cass' voted New Zealand’s Greatest Painting

‘Cass’ voted New Zealand’s Greatest Painting

Frontseat’s Search for New Zealand’s Greatest Painting has yielded a clear winner: ‘Cass’ (1936) by Rita Angus (1908 – 1970).

The painting of a small Canterbury railway station, held in Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection and on public display there, was well ahead of the nine other finalists in the public poll held by TV One’s arts programme, Frontseat.

Voters praised ‘Cass’, which Rita Angus painted in 1936 after a sketching expedition to Arthur’s Pass, for its evocation of the New Zealand landscape.

Artist and curator Gregory O’Brien told Frontseat the top ten paintings were consistent for their focus on the land, but that ‘Cass’ stood above the others as an example of great New Zealand painting.

Art historian and Angus biographer Jill Trevelyan told Frontseat that Rita Angus “wouldn’t have been surprised” by the poll result. Trevelyan said Angus was very proud of ‘Cass’, refusing to let friends buy it, instead lending it to them with the promise that they would one day be able to buy reproductions of the painting.

“Indeed, the ‘Cass’ postcard is now a popular one for gifts to New Zealanders overseas, according to what the voters have been telling us,” said Frontseat producer Gemma Gracewood.

The search began with open nominations from viewers and art experts alike. The ten front-runners were announced at the beginning of April and hundreds of votes were been received over the following month.

The only criteria for Frontseat’s Search For The Greatest New Zealand Painting were that it must be a painting by a New Zealander, or a painting created in New Zealand. The other top ten artists were: Colin McCahon, Bill Hammond, Graeme Sydney, Robin White, Petrus Van der Velden

NB: Angus signed ‘Cass’ as Rita Cook, her then-married name.

About ‘Cass’:
About Rita Angus:
About Frontseat’s Greatest Painting Poll:


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