Painting, 'Head of a Girl'; Aitken, Chrystabel; 1920-1940; ESC.05.006


Painting, 'Head of a Girl'

About this object

This artwork, an oil painting by Chrystabel Aitken, is an early piece from her career that spanned nearly eighty years. It already shows her interest in form, the paint applied confidently in broad immediate stokes that define the contours of the face which is enhanced with her dramatic use of chiaroscuro.

Artist Biography:
Chrystabel Aitken spent her early years on a farm in Waikaka, Southland, New Zealand. Recognising her artistic abilities, her family moved to Christchurch so that she could attend the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts (previously Canterbury College School of Art). Beginning her studies in 1921, her tutors included Francis Shurrock and James Alexander Johnstone.

While at the university she received several scholarships for modelling, including the School medal for ‘Special Excellence in Modelling’ in 1925. Following her graduation Aitken was also a tutor at the School of Art, working alongside Florence Akins, Bill Sutton, and Francis Shurrock.

Aitken specialised in sculpture, although her work also includes jewellery, metalwork, and linocuts. Her sculptures often took animals as their subject.

Chrystabel Aitken exhibited with the Canterbury Society of Arts, the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts and the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition. Between 1936 and 1966 Aitken was a prominent member of The Group.


Aitken, Chrystabel

Maker Role


Date Made




Medium and Materials

organic, vegetal, processed materials, cotton, canvas
organic, vegetal, processed materials, wood
organic, vegetal, processed materials, wood, hardboard
inorganic, processed materials, pigments, oil pigments

Place Made

Oceania, New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury, Christchurch

Inscription and Marks

On reverse written by hand in black ink on white label 'Oil Head of a girl Chrystabel Aitken'.


h 347 mm x w 360 mm x d 22 mm

Subject and Association Keywords

Art and Design

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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