Drawing by Dora Carrington

Drawing by Dora Carrington (1893–1932) 1913

Tate Archive TGA 797
© Tate

For my choice of highlights from our items acquired in 1979, I have selected a wonderful piece of juvenilia by Dora Carrington.

Upon graduating from the Slade in 1914, where her contemporaries included Mark Gertler, C.R.W. Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, and the Nash brothers, Carrington became a prominent member of the Bloomsbury set. She befriended the likes of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry, and Aldous Huxley, the latter using Carrington as the basis for his character, Mary Bracegirdle, in Crome Yellow. One of the things that fascinates me about Dora Carrinton is that, as well as being a talented artist, she also possessed a strongly independent sense of fun and fantasy. Indeed, her boystrous nature led her to being described by Lady Ottoline Morrell, as a ‘wild moorland pony’. I enjoy this charming little cartoon of Olivia crying as it portrays perfectly the sense of humour and wit that Carrington was famous for and displays her talent as a draughtsman, even at the tender age of 16. Taken from TGA 797, this collection also boasts an exciting array of artwork, writings, photographs, published material and correspondence to and from Dora Carrington. Amongst the correspondents are Gerald Brenan, Mark Gertler, John and Paul Nash, Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey. Carrington’s cartoon is just one example from a fascinating array of juvenilia held in the archive. Do you think it is possible to be objective in the evaluation of juvenilia, or does the importance of it lie, primarily, in its ability to offer valuable insight into the early stages of an artist’s development?

TGA 797

Written by Andrew Neilson