Charles Mahoney (1903-1968):
View from the artist's garden, looking across to the old workhouses, circa 1940
Framed (ref: 89)
Inscribed on the reverse by the artist Peter Greenham, 'Scene at Wrotham'
12 1/2 x 16 in. (31.8 x 40.6 cm.)
Provenance: given by Dorothy Mahoney to the artist Peter Greenham in 1969; Jane Dowling, Peter Greenham's wife
These two panels, of near-identical size, are from a series of views
that Mahoney did from his house, Oak Cottage, Wrotham, and its immediate
surroundings. The garden at Oak Cottage was a constant inspiration for
Mahoney. He lived there from 1937-40, during which period he renovated
it, and again from 1945 until his death in 1968. Once the garden that he
planted had matured, he seldom worked anywhere else.
His daughter noted that these paintings were a 'celebration of the beauty that lies in ordinary back gardens, and the place that we occupy in the natural world. Humans and plants blend together, the figures always subordinate to the surrounding plants.'
Jane Dowling, who was taught by Mahoney, recalls that 'months before starting a work, the artist would prepare his panel with a white oil ground (coverine being his favourite choice). He would start as Cezanne did, in thin paint almost like watercolour, a little egg-white slowly being introduced. The white ground only became coloured gradually, some white areas remaining untouched till almost the end. The range between light and dark was quite close. Enormous subtleties were striven for in the relationship between these muted colours. At the end of the day, the work was carefully scraped down ready for a fresh start the next day. Scraping was done with a sharp tip of a palette knife until the values became mysterious and subtle.'
These panels can be compared to Outhouses, circa 1940, in the collection of the Tate Gallery (accession number NO5227). We are grateful to Elizabeth Bulkeley and Jane Dowling for their help in cataloguing these entries.
Photo credit; with thanks to Fred Hohler.