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Charles Mahoney (1903-1968):
The full size preparatory cartoon for The Birth of the Virgin, Campion Hall, circa 1941
Unmounted (ref: 6350)
Charcoal and pencil with highlights in black
34 1/4 x 35 in. (87 x 89 cm.)
Provenance: Provenance: The Artist's Estate
Exhibited: Preston, Canterbury, London, Charles Mahoney, The Fine Art Society, no 74,
Literature: Charles Mahoney, Liss Fine Art, 1999, pp.40-41 and pp.56-57; British Murals & Decorative Painting 1920-1960, Sansom & Co, 2013, pp.85-86 and pp.232-243
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. In detail and composition the paintings owe much to early Italian example. The most notable case is Our Lady of Mercy (Autumn), clearly inspired by Piero della Francesca's altarpiece at Borgo San Sepolcro. 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.
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.