by Rita Angus
Rita Angus (12 March 1908 - 27 January 1970) was a New Zealand painter. Along with Colin McCahon and Toss Woollaston she is credited with introducing modern styles to New Zealand art. She worked primarily in oil and water colour, and is well known for her portraits and landscapes. Born Henrietta Catherine Angus in Hastings, Angus was the eldest of seven children of William McKenzie Angus and Ethel Violet Crabtree. In 1921 her family moved to Palmerston North and she attended Palmerston North Girls' High School between 1922 and 1926. There her talent for art was recognised and she was encouraged to pursue it further. In 1927 she began studying at the Canterbury College School of Art.
She married Alfred Cook, another artist, on 13 June 1930, but in 1934 they separated due to incompatibility, and divorced in 1939. Angus signed many of her paintings as Rita Cook between 1930 and 1946, but after she discovered in 1941 that Alfred Cook had remarried she changed her surname by deed poll to McKenzie, her paternal grandmother's name. As a result, some of her paintings are also signed R. Mackenzie or R. McKenzie, but the majority are signed Rita Angus.
Angus lived mostly in Christchurch during the 1930s and 1940s. She made a living by teaching painting and illustrating for the Christchurch Press Junior. In the late 1940s she suffered from mental illness and entered Sunnyside Mental Hospital in 1949. In 1950 she moved to Waikanae to convalesce, and after some more travels around New Zealand she settled in Wellington in 1955. She died in Wellington Hospital of ovarian cancer on 27 January 1970.
The full Wikipedia article on Angus can be found here.