Archives Acquisition

Campion Hall is indebted to the Friends of the National Libraries for a grant which has made possible the purchase of a small but fascinating archive of notes and drawings by the painter Charles Mahoney (1903 -68).

These relate mostly to the murals of the Hall’s Lady Chapel subsidised by Evelyn Waugh and painted by Mahoney in 1942-52 (see issue no. 5); but there is also a sketch in the hand of Sir Edward Lutyens, the Hall’s architect, of an early project for the possible completion of the Hall as a quadrangle. As a whole, this archive documents not only the evolution of the mural paintings which Mahoney envisaged; it also offers valuable sketches and observations of daily life at Campion Hall in the 1940s and early 50s. As such it embellishes and perfectly complements the substantial holding of Mahoney’s correspondence from the same period which was already contained in the Hall’s archives.

The closely focused group of drawings documents major developments in Mahoney’s scheme for the Lady Chapel, including significant changes of design and plan in various scenes of Mary’s life. Two drawings show the tightening of the composition of The Flight into Egypt from a broad panorama to a vignette framed by branches of Thames Valley beech trees. Another two document the artist’s change of plan for The Dormition of the Virgin to a scene including Jesuits and other recognisable figures gathered around Mary’s deathbed. Three others are evolving studies for Our Lady of Mercy, depicting the representative figures of a workman, a student, a soldier (it was wartime) and a Jesuit kneeling under Mary’s extended protecting arms.

This article was originally published in The Newsletter of Campion Hall, University of Oxford.