Portrait of Father Martin d'Arcy (1888-1976) - a study for the Campion Hall murals, circa 1942
Unmounted (ref: 5374)
Charcoal on tracing paper, 9 5/8 x 9 in. (23.7 x 22.8 cm.)
Father Martin d'Arcy (1888-1976) was a Jesuit priest and a leading Christian thinker of his day. He was also a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, and was Master of Campion Hall, Oxford from 1933 to 1945.
Mahoney was commissioned to produce a mural scheme for the Lady Chapel
at Campion Hall in 1941. The scheme was to be made up primarily of
three large panels: the Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds, the
Coronation of the Virgin, and Our Lady of Mercy. Father D'Arcy appears several times in these compositions.
Above: The Lady Chapel at Campion Hall
Electing to paint directly onto canvas fixed to the walls and by daylight hours only, the project inevitably became drawn out and Mahoney could only work in situ during the Easter and summer vacations when he was not teaching. The project continued into the following decade and coincided with a serious decline in the artist's physical health. In spite of these problems, Sir John Rothenstein, who chose to reproduce one of the murals as a plate in British Art since 1900 (1962, pl.60), was moved to describe the scheme as as second ...only to that by Stanley Spencer at Burghclere.
A full account of the circumstances of the commission and some of the problems involved can be found in Sir John Rothenstein's Tribute to Mahoney in the catalogue of the Memorial Exhibition held at the Ashmolean Museum in 1975.
Above: this thumbnail image shows Wyndham Lewis's portrait of Darcy from 1932
Above: picture of Father Martin d'Arcy