Charles Mahoney

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.

  • Charles-Mahoney: Compositional-study-for-The-pleasures-of-Life-at-Morley-College,-1928-30
    Charles Mahoney: Compositional study for The pleasures of Life at Morley College, 1928-30
  • Charles-Mahoney: Spring
    Charles Mahoney: Spring
  • Charles-Mahoney: Wheelbarrow-and-basket
    Charles Mahoney: Wheelbarrow and basket
  • Charles-Mahoney: Study-for-a-fabric-design,-circa-1940
    Charles Mahoney: Study for a fabric design, circa 1940
  • Charles-Mahoney: Sheet-of-Studies-of-Giant-Sunflowers
    Charles Mahoney: Sheet of Studies of Giant Sunflowers
  • Charles-Mahoney: Study-of-Nicolas-Poussin’s-1648-painting:-Madonna-on-the-steps,-mid-1920s
    Charles Mahoney: Study of Nicolas Poussin’s 1648 painting: Madonna on the steps, mid 1920s
  • Charles-Mahoney: Christmas-tree-in-pot,-1956
    Charles Mahoney: Christmas tree in pot, 1956
 

Catalogues with works by Charles Mahoney

SANCTUARY: Artist-Gardeners 1919-39


Published: January 2020
80 pages
ISBN: 978-1-9993145-5-2

Many of the artists in this catalogue had a particularly strong attachment to gardens and gardening – taking their activities as plantsmen and plantswomen as seriously as they took their art. Charles Mahoney shared his unbridled enthusiasm for plants with Edward Bawden, Geoffrey Rhoades, John Nash and Evelyn Dunbar who swapped cuttings with each other by post. Evelyn Dunbar, along with Charles Mahoney and John Nash, produced books on the subject. And most of Harry Bush’s oeuvre evolved around painting and repainting his garden in the London suburbs of SW19.


Liss Fine Art 2014


Published: October 2014
80 pages 78 illustrations

Unsung heroes aside, the greatest strength of this catalogue comes from the large number of remarkable works by women artists. This goes some way to redressing an imbalance: the story of 20th century British Art is told almost always through the work of male artists in spite of the fact that more women than men went to art school in the first half of the 20th century. The Liss Fine Art bias towards women is not intentional. Yet in the search for the best of the less familiar of 20th century British art a disproportionate number of works by women artists come to the fore. This catalogue includes outstanding works by Margaret Gere, Clare Leighton, Kathleen Guthrie, Rachel Reckitt, Barbara Jones, Mary Adshead, Evelyn Dunbar, Paule Vezelay, Muriel Pemberton and Dorothy Mahoney.


Murals & Decorative Painting 1920-1960


Published: October 2013
352 pages, 130 colour illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-908326-23

Nominated for the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History.

This book is illustrated with a series of specially commissioned photographs that record some of the least known but most remarkable mural cycles in Great Britain. In the vast majority of cases these works have previously only been reproduced in black and white if at all. … Today murals are rarely seen as the artist intended. Often they are partially obscured, especially where there has been a change of building use. Frequently works are completely covered up or painted over – examples include murals by Mary Sargent Florence, Mary Adshead, Eric Ravilious, Dora Carrington, William Roberts and Gilbert Spencer. Where murals survive they are more often than not displaced works. Historic photographs showing John Piper’s The Englishman’s Home at The Festival of Britain, in situ on the river side of the Homes and Gardens Pavilion on Belvedere Road, come as a revelation; a digital reconstruction of Frank Brangwyn’s Empire panels for The House of Lords, seen in situ as they were originally intended, gives a dramatically more favourable impression than their final installation in The Brangwyn Hall, Swansea.


Murals & Decorative Painting 1910-1970


Published: February 2013
128 pages 114 illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-9567139-6

The murals that were produced in this country in the twentieth century remain as one of the great inventive achievements in modern British art. Highly original in their approach to design, balancing varying degrees of modernity or tradition, they demonstrate the creative drive of their makers and contain singular expressions of the aesthetic, personal and social concerns that typify the ages from which they come. Some are celebrations of simple human pleasures, perhaps to decorate a refreshment room, an ocean liner or a dining room. Others are intended to be the highest expressions of their art, ambitious allegorical or decorative compositions that like the frescoes of the Renaissance would speak through the ages to later generations. The individuals and committees who commissioned them similarly believed they would both represent the best that Britain had to offer and mark the high accomplishment of contemporary society, elevating the public and private spaces they occupied and inspiring moral purpose.


Charles Mahoney


Published: 1999
72 pages 75 illustrations

Mahoney's aims as artist and teacher were of a similar nature to those of the early artist-craftsmen such as Giotto. Teaching, for him, was not just a means of earning a living; it was a calling to which he devoted a major part of his life and an enormous amount of physical and nervous energy. With his appreciation of history he may have been able to afford to take a long view of the development of style, but he was passionate that students should learn their craft from the bottom up. Provided the skills were passed on the future was assured. Just as good gardeners propagate and plant for the future. Mahoney, through passion and zeal, nurtured and encouraged those students who were sympathetic to his approach to history and art.


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