Mahoney, Charles

(1903 – 1968)

Studies of a Sunflower Plant, late 1950's

£2,650.00

Signed with initials

Pen and ink wash, 17 1/8 x 10 in. (43.5 x 25.5 cm.)

1 in stock

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Dorothy Mahoney; Judy Egerton

Provenance: Dorothy Mahoney; Judy Egerton
Exhibited: Charles Mahoney Memorial, at Michael Parkin Fine Art., Oct. 1975


Mahoney was particularly fond of the giant sunflower, Helianthus annuus, capable of outgrowing a man within a season. He made many colour and black and white studies of this species, capturing the convoluted energy of their rough stems and massive heads, and the ragged angles of their great leaves.


Tirzah Garwood records Mahoney’s passion for Sunflowers in several amusing anecdotes recounted in Long Live Great Bardfield, (Fleece Press):


Charlie had a glass eye but I thought that on the whole it improved his appearance, giving an interesting and piratical look to a face that as nature intended it, might have belonged to a Sunday School superintendent or a postman’ p. 100-101

Charlie Mahoney with Geoffrey Rhoades stayed for a long time and helped Edward with the garden.  During the winter the four men had cleared the yard which was feet deep in years of rubbish.  They unearthed all kinds of relics from the trade of past owners; it had been a girl’s school and a saddler’s and coffin maker’s and there were pieces of coffin and piles of old harness which they burned in a huge pit which they had dug in the garden.   Geoffrey Rhoades made a painting of the others working in the snow, Eric wearing a black and white striped football jersey….. In the Spring Mahoney supervised the digging and planting of the garden, insisting on two spits deep, and Edward with his usual thoroughness bought lavishly the best of everything interesting or unusual in the seed catalogue so that when we came back from Morecambe the garden was already quite changed…. p 133

‘The next year Edward planted numerous sunflowers.  There was a row along the wall by the lavatory and half way up the garden, the cream of the collection, a monstrous double sunflower grew to huge maturity.  So large and so splendid was it that looking up to its vast centre I felt that I should never be satisfied with any future sunflower I might grow, this was the limit.

Such a large crop needs strong sticks to support it and what with the number of earwigs they contained and the unfriendly height they grew to, we felt that perhaps we had rather over-done it.  Charlie Mahoney made drawings from the top of the ladder, one rather resented his continual presence outside the lavatory. p. 134


We are grateful to Simon Lawrence for assistance.

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THE ARTIST

Mahoney, Charles

1903 – 1968

In his memoir Since 50, Men & Memories 1922-1938 (New York,1940, p. 236) the first two names that appear on William Rothenstein list of top Royal College of Art students were Henry Moore and Charles Mahoney – the list continues with the names of luminaries such as Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Barnett Freedman Edward Le Bas, and Evelyn Dunbar. The process of reassuring Mahoney’s place in 20th century British Art has had several important milestones including the 1975 Ashmolean exhibition, the Liss Fine Art/Fine Art Society touring show (2000) and Mahoney’s predominant feature in Tate Britain’s The Art of the Garden, (2005) – but the process of reassessment still has a long way to go.

Painter, muralist, draughtsman and teacher. Born Cyril Mahoney in London – his fellow-student Barnett Freedman re-christened him Charlie at the Royal College of Art, which he attended 1922-6 after a period at Beckenham School of Art under Percy Jowett. Early on, Mahoney established a reputation as a conscientious teacher. He was at the Royal College 1928-53, from 1948-53 as a painting tutor, and was noted there for his concern for academic discipline. His portrait is included in Rodrigo Moynihan’s celebrated Teaching Staff of the Painting School at the Royal College of Art, 1949-50. From 1954 to 1963 he taught at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting and from 1961 to 1968 at the Royal Academy Schools. He painted murals at Morley College 1928-30 with his colleagues Eric Ravillious and Edward Bawden. Unfortunately these murals were destroyed during World War II. The work led to further murals: at Brockley School, Kent, with Evelyn Dunbar; and at Campion Hall Lady Chapel, Oxford. His oil paintings are frequently of a religious nature. He was a skilled botanist, and many of his drawings depict his garden at Wrotham, Kent. He exhibited at NEAC and the RA, being made an RA elect in 1968. He is represented in the Tate Gallery and other public collections. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, held a memorial exhibition in 1975. Exhibitions were held in 2000 at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury, and the Fine Art Society plc in association with Liss Fine Art.

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Room at the Queens Hotel, Ambleside, circa 1940
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Compositional study for The pleasures of Life at Morley College, 1928-30
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Street scene with children wearing gas masks, circa 1940
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