French Bay

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August to September 1956
Enamel on board
549 x 756mm

cm000605 on the Colin McCahon Online Catalogue.

In this work, a nocturnal painting employing a drastically reduced colour palette, Colin McCahon conveys the idea of reflections on water using narrow horizontal bands. Otitori French Bay was a short distance from the artist’s home and he made it the subject of a number of paintings. Important examples are in the Chartwell Collection at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

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French Bay, August – Sept '56. McCahon [l.l.]

Exhibition History

Freedom and Structure: Cubism and New Zealand Art 1930–1960, curated by Julia Waite, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Tāmaki Makaurau, 16 May 2015 to 10 April 2016 (toured)

Representation and Reaction: Modernism and the New Zealand Landscape Tradition 1956–1977, Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua, Whanganui, 31 August to 27 October 2002 (toured)


Peter Simpson, Colin McCahon: The Titirangi Years, 1953–59 (Tāmaki Makaurau: Auckland University Press, 2007), 110.

Peter Simpson, Colin McCahon: There Is Only One Direction, Vol. 1 1919–1959 (Tāmaki Makaurau: Auckland University Press, 2019), 218.


Fletcher Trust Collection, purchased March 1998