Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Dorothy Mahoney (1902-1984)   BIOGRAPHY

 £1,250 / €1,476 / US$1,602  Add to cart
Oak Cottage from the back garden, c. 1945
Unmounted (ref: 4789)

Watercolour over pen and ink, 10 1/4 x 16 in. (26 x 40.5 cm.)


Oak Cottage, (purchased by Charles Mahoney just beforre the Second World War), was Dorothy's first experience of living in an old house in the country and owning her own home. For both artists it became an endless source of inspiration and the setting for much of their work

Dorothy Mahoney (ne Bishop) entered the RCA School of Design in 1924 with Book Illustration as her principal subject.  From 1926-28 she took lettering and illumination as her principal subject under Edward Johnston, to whom, during this period, she became student-assistant.  Her subsidiary subjects were wood engraving, pottery, bookbinding and embroidery.  It is likely that this rare un- numbered wood engraving dates to this period.
In 1929 she was appointed Deputy Assistant to Edward Johnston, giving lectures, demonstrations, and classes in his absence.
In 1940 when the RCA was evacuated to Ambleside in the Lake District she became better acquainted with fellow teacher Charles Mahoney whom she married the following year.

Both had in common an unbridled enthusiasm for plants - a passion which before the war Mahoney had shared with Edward Bawden, Geoffrey Rhoades, John Nash and Evelyn Dunbar, the latter with whom he published Gardener's Choice in 1937.   The correspondence between this circle is full of exchanges about the discovery, nurturing and drawing of new potential subjects facilitated by sending to each otherplant cuttings sent by post.

Oak Cottage, in Wrotham Kent, where Dorothy and Charles lived after the war and for the rest of their lives, was a source of immense inspiration for both artists.  Once the garden that they planted had matured Charles especially rarely went  elsewhere for inspiration.

This design shows a walled garden amongst Kentish orchards such as those around her home in Wrotham.  This piece may have been inteneded as the frontispiece for a book to be written in collaboration with her husband Charles Mahoney.  Her skill in illumination and penmanship is shown in the precise delineation of the tulip petals.
Elizabeth Bulkeley, the artist's daughter, ( note to Paul Liss December 2010).

A small selection of work by Dorothy Mahoney is on display at The British Museum.


Dorothy Mahoney (1902-1984)

(previously DOROTHY BISHOP), written by the artist's daughter.

Sept 3; Born Dorothy Louise Bishop in Wednesbury, Staffordshire.;
1902;Eldest child of William and Louise Booth Bishop.

1908-18; Attended St Bartholomew’s Girls’ School, Wednesbury.
Latterly became pupil-assistant.

1918-24; West Bromwich School of Art.

1920; Awarded local scholarship.

1924; Awarded a Staffordshire County Scholarship to attend the Royal College of Art, South Kensington, London. Entered School of Design
with Book Illustration as principal subject.

1926-8       Took Lettering and Illumination as principal subject under
                   Edward Johnston. Became student-assistant to Edward Johnston.
                  Subsidiary subjects: wood engraving, pottery, bookbinding, embroidery.

1929         Appointed Deputy Assistant to Edward Johnston at
                 The Royal College of Art;
                 later given charge of classes in his absences.
                 Gave lectures, demonstrations. Undertook  responsibilities involving both
                 staff and students.

1927-8       Instructor in London County Council classes for women, Brixton and Halford 
                Road; various Arts and Crafts.

1928           Became Tutor in Woolwich Polytechnic School of Art under  Herbert Buckley
               and Louis Prince.  Heber Matthews was Tutor in Pottery and became a friend.

1932         Made two large decorative panels from panels of embroidered work by girls in                her class at Woolwich Technical School; exhibited these at the Victoria and
               Albert Museum and in Stockholm.

1934         Recommended by Professsor Hubert Worthington to execute a series of 
               lettered and illuminated panels on vellum constitiuting the Memorial to the
               15th, 16th, 19th and 20th Battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers (c. 2000 names)
               in Sacred Trinity Church, Salford.

1936          Wrote ‘Index’ on vellum for Manchester Cathedral.

1936         Appointed as a result of a competition held by Society of Scribes and                                 Illuminators to execute a series of lettered panels for the Royal Society of                         British Architects.   
1937         Lettered and illuminated a vellum panel War Memorial for All Saints Church,                Hocking.

1938-9      Wrote 2 sets of articles on ‘Broad Pen Lettering’ for Arts and Crafts                                     Education (magazine).

1929-39     Spent a total of  almost 2 years travelling in Europe during summer holidays,                 mainly in France, Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy, visiting art galleries and     
                Visited studios of artists and craftsmen (Worpswede).
                Visited the bookbinding workshop and school of Prof. Otto Dorfner of                          Weimar.

1938         Given 6 months’ leave of absence by London County Council for intensive                     study in dress design at the Reiman School, Westminster.

1939-53     (Now official!) Tutor in charge of Calligraphy at Royal College of Art after                             retirement of Edward Johnston.

1940         Evacuated to Ambleside, Westmoreland, with Royal College of Art (Salutation                          Hotel).

1941         Married the painter and muralist Charles Mahoney in Ambleside.

1941         Made studies of wild flowers from Ambleside.

March 21  Birth of a daughter, Elizabeth, in Wolverhampton.

1945         Moved to Oak Cottage, Wrotham, Kent with her husband and daughter.

1947         Decorative map of Cirencester for the Fleece Hotel – vellum panel.

1948         Book of Remembrance for Brathay Church, Ambleside  (Decorative                                   frontispiece of church).

1949         Lettered and illuminated a presentation to Professor Sir Ian Heilbron,  DSO,                      FRC, at Imperial College
               (book form).

1951         Festival of Britain – cover for leaflet.

1951         Cheltenham College Honours Book  (1841-1950).

1951         French Carol ‘Quelle est cette odeur agreable’ written on vellum for Lord                              Cholmondeley  (Now at Victoria and Albert Museum).
1952         Lettered a Roll of Honour for Institute of Chartered Accontants  War                               Memorial.

January   Initiation of Benefactors’ Book for Whitworth Art Gallery
1952          (originally conceived as panels)

1952         Lettered and illuminated a book presented to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth by                  Shrewsbury School.

1953         Calligraphy teaching at Royal College of Art discontinued by Robin Darwin.

May          Victoria and Albert Museum purchases 2 works by DM.

1953         Books completed for Manchester  Cathedral Memorial Chapel.

1953         First  of  4 Panels of  Provosts for  King’s College Chapel.
(or later)  

1953         Commission for 2 volumes for Roll of Honour for Fiji

1957         Decorative map of  Bayliss Jones & Bayliss Ltd of Wolverhampton

1961         Book for Philip Hofer ‘Some English Garden Flowers’.  Lettered text
                 opposite full-page plant illustration.  Houghton Library, Harvard, USA.

1961         St Clement Danes, Strand.  RAF Book of Remembrance for World War II –
                 inscribed 13,500 names beginning with ‘C’ or ‘D’.

1964         Excerpts from Cobbett’s writings for Marilyn Davis.

1965         Decorative map on vellum of St Mary’s College, Cheltenham.

1968         St Felix School, Southwold; Memorial book, map frontispiece.

1970         Vellum book lettered and illuminated by DM and bound by Sydney Cockerell.
                 Post World War II Roll of Honour for Royal Engineers  (St Paul’s Cathedral)

1971         Panel presented to Heather Child by Society of Scribes and Illuminators.
                 (Wordsworth poem with Lakeland flowers).

1981        The Craft of Calligraphy published by Pelham Books Ltd.

1982         Poem by Dylan Thomas for Jeanne Smith – vellum ?panel.

1983         Forced to stop work on Whitworth Art Gallery Benefactor’s book for health                     reasons.

Jan          Decorative Alphabet for Michael Taylor based on uncials.

May         Died after a major stroke.

NOTE     DM  also exhibited with the SSI and Society of Designer                                                             Craftsmen.
After leaving the Royal College of Art she taught calligraphy at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and Ravensthorpe School of Art.  After ‘retirement’ at age 65 she taught  2 evening classes a week at the Stanhope Institute, Queen’s Square, London until she was in her late 70s.

See all works by Dorothy Mahoney