Private Collection

Carrington, Dora

(1893 – 1932)

Eggs on a Table, Tidmarsh Mill, circa 1924

SKU: 9980

Oil on board
76.8 x 53.3 cm

Size:
Height: 76.8cm
Width: 53.3cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Private Collection

Exhibited: 50/50; Fifty British Women Artists 1900 – 1950, Worshipful Company of Mercers (3rd December 2018 Р23rd March, 2019); The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds (9th April, 2019 Р27th July, 2019).

When Carrington painted Eggs on a Table, she was probably at her happiest.

The house near Pangbourne that she had found, furnished and decorated

for her companion and one true love, Lytton Strachey – the homosexual

writer and founder member of the Bloomsbury Group – was where a

remarkable “triangular trinity of happiness” flourished after the handsome

and practical Ralph Partridge joined them in 1919. He helped her in

the garden, where they grew beans and raspberries, and with the ducks

and chickens that provided them with eggs. Her letters from the time are

sprinkled with enchanting drawings of flowers, fruit and poultry, as well as

descriptions of sketching Ralph in the nude.

Inevitably, given that she loved Lytton, who loved Ralph, who loved

her, their happiness was volatile. In 1921, with great reluctance, she

married Ralph after he threatened to leave the ménage; her reaction was to

start a romance with his best friend. By 1923 all three had other loves, and

rows and recriminations marred the Tidmarsh idyll. In 1924 they moved

to a bigger, airier house under the Downs near Hungerford. There was still

much laughter and happiness ahead, but Carrington always looked back on

the early years at Tidmarsh Mill as the best.

She never stopped working at her painting, but her devotion to

Lytton’s wellbeing and endless emotional complications, combined with

her natural diffidence about her work, so very different as it was from the

other Bloomsbury artists, impeded her progress as an artist. Although some

of her portraits are perhaps her strongest work, the freshness, simplicity and

delight in colour and shape in this picture make Eggs on a Table a radiant

celebration of the pleasures of her domestic life at its most harmonious.

Commentary by Anne Chisholm, biographer and reviewer, most recently of the Bloomsbury diarist Frances Partridge. Her edition of Carrington’s Letters (2017) will be out in paperback in 2019.

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THE ARTIST

Carrington, Dora

1893 – 1932

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