Joy and Sorrow, circa 1933
Framed (ref: 5265)
Oil on paper, laid on board,
18 x 11 in. (45.8 x 30.5 cm)
Provenance: given by the artist to Geoffrey Rhoades, thence by descent until 201.The commission to decorate Brockley (now Prendergast) School in South London, was the result of an appeal by William Rothenstein, Principal of the RCA, for students to be given the opportunity to experiment with mural painting.
Mahoney was invited to organise the scheme at the beginning of 1932. The school undertook to pay for the materials. William Rothenstein hoped to find payment for the artists. In the end, Mahoney’s payment was only £25 and a silver cigarette case. Situated in the school hall, in five arched-top panels, the subjects of the murals were taken from Aesop’s Fables. The paintings were executed in oil on to existing plaster. They were opened by Oliver Stanley, Minister of Education in 1936.
Joy and Sorrow illustrates the fable of two sisters who quarrelled as to which should have precedence. King Minos, as arbitrator, decreed that they should be linked together and each of them in turn should tread on the heel of the other. In an essay published in Country Life (30th April 1987), Alan Powers notes ‘the setting is a claustrophobic enclosure between brick walls, with watchers on a tower beyond. The walls and iron gates have that strange exactness of place that is at the root of English romantic painting'.
Joy and Sorrow in situ Brockley School in South London (now Prendergast)
Mahoney's composition has similarities to Stanley Spencer's contemporaneous Sandham Chapel murals:
Stanley Spencer 'Convoy Arriving with the Wounded'