Several paradoxes are associated with the life of painter and designer Dory Carrington. She was talented, very creative and spent much of her life as an artist, but her work was not recognized until long after her death. She lived with the love of her life for years, but at the same time, their relationship did not reach the fulfillment she wanted. The woman, whose path to fame was probably complicated by her character and the fact that she was ahead of her time in something, nevertheless left a mark in art. Several of his works are currently in the prestigious British Tate Gallery.
Dora de Houghton Carrington was born on March 29, 1893 into the family of railway engineer Samuel Carrington and his wife Charlotte, née Houghton. Dora, who was the fourth of their five children, must have been drawn to art since childhood. A teacher at a girls’ school in Bedford quickly recognized her talent and her parents paid for private drawing lessons. However, Dora did not remember much of her childhood – she did not get along with her mother, who was said to be quite anxious, demanding and very religious.
Young Dora won art competitions and in 1910 received a scholarship to the School of Fine Arts, known as Slade, where she won several other awards. At the same time, she was probably not just a student, but also a personality. Several of her classmates are said to have fallen in love with her – including the painter and photographer Paul Nash, her younger brother John or Mark Gertler. Since her student days, Dora had only her last name – specifically Carrington.
During her creative years, Carrington’s work is characterized by a range of techniques – in addition to classical painting, she also creates woodblock prints, decorated ceramics, furniture and works with materials such as glass , tiles or leather. As early as 1913, she and Constance Lane created three large frescoes for the library of the stately Ashridge Country House in Hertfordshire.
She and the Nash brothers were preparing to paint frescoes in a church in Uxbridge, but their plans were thwarted by the outbreak of the First World War. In the first year of the war, after living and working in London for a time, she also moved in with her parents, who bought a house in Hampshire, southern England, and set up a studio with them.
Carrington was close to the Bloombsbury artistic and intellectual group, which included writer Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard, writer Edward Morgan Forster, economist John Maynard Keynes, painter Vanessa Bell, and writer and critic Lytton Strachey.
Dora corresponded with Woolf, and the writer described her in his diary as an active, eager and curious girl who cannot be “loved”. After all, Carrington was also visually striking. Beautiful, but at the same time a bit androgynous. She took a cut page with two classmates at school – long before it became fashionable after the First World War. Dora loved both men and women equally; we know that in the 1920s, his mistress was the American journalist Henrietta Bingham.
However, it was Strachey, whom Dora Carrington first met in 1916, who fatally marked the life of the young painter. With a writer 13 years her senior, Dora moved in at the end of 1917. She fell in love with him, but Strachey was homosexual. Nevertheless, they broke up completely only at the end of their lives, and their relationship gained unconventionality at the turn of the tens and twenties. In 1918 Carrington met Ralph Patridge, who fell in love with her, and she finally accepted his marriage proposal in 1921. But she did not leave Strachey – they lived in threes. The writer even accompanied them on their honeymoon in Venice.
Prior to the wedding, Carrington and Strachey, who were currently in Italy, also exchanged touching letters. The painter was in despair that Strachey could not return her love as she wished, and that Strachey had written to her that her presence was one of the most important things in his life and that he loved her more than his girlfriend. All three later lived in a house in the village of Ham in south-west England, which Strachey bought in 1924.
At that time, the painter had not signed for years and generally did not even date his work. Apparently, the lack of self-confidence and the fact that he did not fit into the mainstream of island art of the time then led to the fact that he did not gain significant recognition from the from critics and audiences during his lifetime.
The Portrait of Lytton Strachey is one of Dora Carrington’s most famous works source: Wikipedia.org
In 1926, Patridge fell in love with writer Frances Marshall and moved to London. However, he kept in touch with his wife and they never divorced. Dora began with Bernard Penrose in the second half of the 1920s and her relationship probably testified to this, as it would have greatly encouraged his creative activity. She even worked with Penros on several films, but he only wanted a painter for himself. The relationship ended for good after Dora got pregnant and decided not to have a baby. It was said to be the last relationship with a man in her life.
The last months of life
In 1931 came a hard blow. Strachey, 51, was seriously ill at the time. Diagnostic? Stomach cancer. Stressed out Dora, who was convinced the love of her life was dying, reportedly tried to choke herself in the garage, but the writer saved her. He then died on January 21, 1932. Dora survived him only a few weeks. On March 11, 1932, she committed suicide and was shot with a borrowed gun. His ashes were scattered under the laurels in the garden of the house where Strachey lived.
His portraits and landscape paintings went unrecognized for decades. Currently, Carrington’s work is stylistically categorized as Post-Impressionism, Surrealism, and Works of the Pre-Raphaelites. However, his design work also got attention.
After parts of his correspondence and diary entries were published in the 1970s, scholars began to take an interest in the artist’s life, and his imprint is also in popular culture. In 1995 a film was made about Dora Carrington Carringtonin Czech name In the heat of love. The painter was played by Emma Thompson, Jonathan Pryce of Strachey. The character Carrington also appeared in a Spanish film Al Sur from Granadawhere she was played by Jessica Kate Meyer.
Emma Thompson played Dora Carrington in In the Heat of Love source: Profimedia.cz
However, the house in the village of Ham did not become an orphan after the death of the writer and painter. Ralph Patridge married Frances Marshall in 1933 and they lived in Ham. In June 1935, they were born their only son, Lytton Burgo, named after Strachey. Ralph died in 1960, his second wife surviving him by 43 years.