Dodd, Phyllis

(1899 – 1995)

Self-portrait

Pencil

Inscribed ‘Drawing for Dry-point’

9 x 8 3/4 in. (23 x 21.5 cm)

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
The Artists’ Daughters

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 22.

Phyllis Dodd received a Royal Exhibition Scholarship to attend the Royal College of Art (RCA) for four
years, from 1921-25, alongside Henry Moore (1898-1986), Raymond Coxon (1896-1997) and Edna
Ginesi (1902-2000). In 1924, having achieved her Painting Diploma in two years (rather than three), she
embarked on a Scholarship in etching and aquatint, under Frank Short. One of her earliest etchings – The
Beret – shows a fellow student, Pindi, the pet name for Kathleen Bridle (1897-1989), who attended the
RCA from 1921-25. Bridle went on to work as a glass painter in the Dublin studio of Harry Clarke and
became one of the founders of the Ulster Unit in 1934. Frank Short insisted on draughtsmanship of the
highest order as a prerequisite for entry to his course but this offered no barrier to Dodd, who in her
fourth and final year won the drawing prize in the School of Painting. A confident self-portrait, dating to
1925, shows how well she mastered etching. The surviving drawing for the drypoint shows the process
by which an image was first conceived on paper and then engraved on to the copper plate, which when
printed appears in reverse. Unfortunately, she produced no more prints after leaving college despite
Short’s advice that she should concentrate on etching portraits because she was so fluently skilled in
these. It was good advice at the time, but after the Wall Street crash, interest in this medium collapsed
and never really recovered.

A proof copy of the artist’s drypoint self-portrait

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THE ARTIST

Dodd, Phyllis

1899 – 1995

Phyllis Dodd achieved considerable success from early on in
her prolific career. Studying at the Liverpool School of Art from
1917’21, she received a Royal Exhibition Scholarship and
attended the Royal College of Art for four years ‘ alongside Henry
Moore (1898’1986), Raymond Coxon (1896’1997) and Edna
Ginesi (1902’2000), with whom she would remain friends for the
rest of her life ‘ winning the Drawing Prize in her final year. 

From 1925 to 1930 she taught part-time at Walthamstow
Technical College. In 1928, she married the artist Douglas
Percy Bliss (1900’1984) and they worked alongside each other,
exhibiting together at Derby Art Gallery in 1947. She also
exhibited at the NEAC, the RA, the RP, the Walker Art Gallery
and the RSA, and in 1989 the Hatton Gallery at Newcastle
University held a large retrospective exhibition to celebrate her
ninetieth birthday.

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