Framed (ref: 234)
Signed and dated 1933
Oil on paper (arched top)
45.7 x 26.7 cm (18 x 10 in.)
The commission to decorate Brockley (now Prendergast) School in South London, was the result of an appeal by William Rothenstein,
Principal of the RCA, for students to be given the opportunity to experiment with mural painting. Mahoney was invited to organise the
scheme at the beginning of 1932. He selected Evelyn Dunbar, Mildred Eldridge and Violet Martin to produce some of the murals. Situated
in the school hall, in five arched-top panels, the subjects of the murals were taken from Aesop’s Fables. The paintings were executed in
oil on to existing plaster. They were opened by Oliver Stanley, Minister of Education in 1936.
Joy and Sorrow illustrates the fable of two sisters who quarrelled as to which should have precedence. King Minos, as arbitrator, decreed that they should be linked together and each of them in turn should tread on the heel of the other. In an essay published in Countiy Life (30th April 1987), Alan Powers notes ‘the setting is a claustrophobic enclosure between brick walls, with watchers on a tower beyond. The walls and iron gates have that strange exactness of place that is at the root of English romantic painting'.
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.