On this day..., Painters

On this day… died Dora Carrington

Dora Carrington was an English painter and decorative artist who is also remembered for her association with the Bloomsbury Group, especially with the writer Lytton Strachey.

Self-portrait by Dora Carrington, 1910

Carrington studied at the all-girls Bedford High School which emphasised art, but her parents paid for her to receive extra drawing lessons. By 1910 she went to Slade School of Art at University College in London, where she won a scholarship. Among her fellow students were Dorothy Brett, Paul Nash, Christopher R. W. Nevinson and Mark Gertler. From this time onwards she was commonly known only by her surname.

Even though she was not a member of the Bloomsbury Group, she was closely associated with it and with the bohemian attitudes. She had a long relationship with one of the members of the Bloomsbury, the writer Lytton Strachey, whom she first met in 1916.

Work and Career

According to John Rothenstein, who was for nearly thirty years of the Tate Gallery (London), Carrington was the most neglected serious painter of her time.

She was not well known during her lifetime; her work did not receive critical attention by then since she rarely exhibited and did not sign her work. The lack of encouragement may have kept her from displaying her artworks, and that her work did not fit into the mainstream of art in England that time did not help.

Her work has been described as “progressive”, it featured Victorian-style pictures made from coloured tinfoil and paper. She was not only a very accomplished painter of portraits and landscapes, she worked in applied and decorative arts too, painting on any type of surface she had at hand including inn signs, tiles and furniture and decorated pottery. Carrington also created woodblock prints and among her lesser-known works were painted pub signs and murals, ceramics, fireplaces and tin trunks.

Mountain Rangers from Yegen, Andalusia by Dora Carrington, 1924

Her better-known works are undoubtedly her landscape paintings, they merge the facts of visual perception with intime desires and fantasies, for this reason they’ve been linked to surrealism. Her Mountain Rangers from Yegen, Andalusia of 1924 shows the split in perspectives, in it there is an intimate foreground and in the distance the view of the mountains. The middle mountains exhibit the texture of human skin. In this painting we can observe the notion of the intime and personal being made public.

Carrington committed suicide on this day in 1932. She could not find reasons to live after Lytton Strachey’s death a cause of a stomach cancer.

Curiosities:

  • Dora Carrington’s life was dramatised in the biographical film titled Carrington (1995) starring Emma Thompson in the main role.
  • The character Mary Bracegirdle, of Adolf Huxley’s first novel Crome Yellow was based on Carrington.
  • In 1995 there was a major retrospective exhibition of her work at the Barbican Art Gallery in London.
  • Two of her works are in the Tate Gallery (London).

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