Modern British Art by Dorothy Mahoney: Oak Cottage from the back garden, c. 1945 |



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Dorothy Mahoney:
Oak Cottage from the back garden, c. 1945

Unmounted (ref: 4789)

Watercolour over pen and ink, 10 1/4 x 16 in. (26 x 40.5 cm.)


Oak Cottage, (purchased by Charles Mahoney just beforre the Second World War), was Dorothy's first experience of living in an old house in the country and owning her own home. For both artists it became an endless source of inspiration and the setting for much of their work

Dorothy Mahoney (ne Bishop) entered the RCA School of Design in 1924 with Book Illustration as her principal subject.  From 1926-28 she took lettering and illumination as her principal subject under Edward Johnston, to whom, during this period, she became student-assistant.  Her subsidiary subjects were wood engraving, pottery, bookbinding and embroidery.  It is likely that this rare un- numbered wood engraving dates to this period.
In 1929 she was appointed Deputy Assistant to Edward Johnston, giving lectures, demonstrations, and classes in his absence.
In 1940 when the RCA was evacuated to Ambleside in the Lake District she became better acquainted with fellow teacher Charles Mahoney whom she married the following year.

Both had in common an unbridled enthusiasm for plants - a passion which before the war Mahoney had shared with Edward Bawden, Geoffrey Rhoades, John Nash and Evelyn Dunbar, the latter with whom he published Gardener's Choice in 1937.   The correspondence between this circle is full of exchanges about the discovery, nurturing and drawing of new potential subjects facilitated by sending to each otherplant cuttings sent by post.

Oak Cottage, in Wrotham Kent, where Dorothy and Charles lived after the war and for the rest of their lives, was a source of immense inspiration for both artists.  Once the garden that they planted had matured Charles especially rarely went  elsewhere for inspiration.

This design shows a walled garden amongst Kentish orchards such as those around her home in Wrotham.  This piece may have been inteneded as the frontispiece for a book to be written in collaboration with her husband Charles Mahoney.  Her skill in illumination and penmanship is shown in the precise delineation of the tulip petals.
Elizabeth Bulkeley, the artist's daughter, ( note to Paul Liss December 2010).

A small selection of work by Dorothy Mahoney is on display at The British Museum.


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