Dora de Houghton Carrington (29 March 1893 – 11 March 1932), known generally as Carrington, was a British painter and decorative artist, remembered in part for her association with members of the Bloomsbury Group, especially the writer Lytton Strachey.
Born in Hereford, England, she attended the all-girls' Bedford High School which emphasized art. Her parents also paid for her to receive extra lessons in drawing. She went to the Slade School of Art in London where she subsequently won a scholarship; there her fellow students included Paul Nash, Christopher R.W. Nevinson and Mark Gertler. All at one time or another were in love with her, as was Nash's younger brother John Nash, who hoped to marry her. Gertler pursued Carrington for a number of years, and they had a brief sexual relationship during the years of the First World War.
From her time at the Slade onwards she was commonly known simply by her surname. She was not well known as a painter during her lifetime, as she rarely exhibited and did not sign her work. She worked for a while at the Omega Workshops, and for the Hogarth Press, designing woodcuts.
Carrington was not a member of the Bloomsbury Group, though she was closely associated with Bloomsbury and, more generally, with "Bohemian" attitudes, through her long relationship with the homosexual writer Lytton Strachey, whom she first met in 1916. Distinguished by her cropped pageboy hair style (before it was fashionable) and somewhat androgynous appearance, she was troubled by her sexuality; she is known to have had at least one lesbian affair (with Henrietta Bingham). She also had a significant relationship with the writer Gerald Brenan.
In June 1918 Virginia Woolf wrote of Carrington in her diary: "She is odd from her mixture of impulse & self consciousness. I wonder sometimes what she’s at: so eager to please, conciliatory, restless, & active. . . . ut she is such a bustling eager creature, so red & solid, & at the same time inquisitive, that one can’t help liking her." Carrington first set up house with Lytton Strachey in November 1917, when they moved together to Tidmarsh Mill House, near Pangbourne, Berkshire; she continued to live with him at Ham Spray House from 1924 although the home had been purchased by Lytton in the name of her husband, Ralph Partridge, who lived there also at weekends with his lover and future wife Frances Marshall.
Strachey died of cancer at Ham Spray in January 1932. Carrington, who saw no purpose in a life without Strachey, committed suicide two months later by shooting herself with a gun borrowed from her friend, Hon. Bryan Guinness (later 2nd Baron Moyne).Her body was cremated and the ashes buried under the laurels in the garden of the Ham Spray House in Wiltshire. Carrington's life with Strachey was dramatized in the 1995 film Carrington, starring Emma Thompson in the title role.
An accomplished painter of both portraits and landscape, she also worked in applied and decorative arts, painting on any type of surface she had at hand including inn signs, tiles and furniture. She also decorated pottery. Carrington designed the library at Ham Spray.
In 1970 David Garnett published a selection of letters and extracts from her diary, since which time critical and popular appreciation of her work has risen sharply. In 1978, Sir John Rothenstein, for nearly 30 years Director of the Tate Gallery, London, called Dora Carrington "the most neglected serious painter of her time." "That is no longer the case. In 1995, she was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in London." Two of her works are in the Tate Gallery London.
For many years, Carrington’s art was neglected by the public and her main notoriety was due to her relationship to Lytton Strachey. On his deathbed, Strachey said, "I always wanted to marry Carrington but never did." His biographer calls this sentiment "untrue," and argues that Strachey was simply trying to console Carrington. However, the facts suggest otherwise.
It is obvious through their constant correspondence and 16 years of Strachey choosing to live with Carrington that they both cherished a love for each other although Carrington’s was always the strongest and most consuming. Upon his death, Lytton Strachey left Carrington £10,000 (the equivalent of £240,000 in 1994).
Dora de Houghton Carrington (Hereford, 29 marzo 1893 – Ham, 11 marzo 1932) è stata una pittrice e decoratrice artistica britannica.
Frequentò la scuola femminile Bedford High School, che dava risalto all'arte. I suoi genitori pagarono perché avesse lezioni extra in disegno. Vinse una borsa di studio alla Slade School of Art di Londra, dove incontrò i fratelli Paul e John Nash, Christopher R.W. Nevinson e Mark Gertler. Tutti, almeno una volta, ebbero una storia d'amore con lei. Gertler in particolare la perseguitò per un certo numero di anni.
Cominciò ad essere chiamata Carrington sin dai tempi alla Slade School; era comune in tale scuola riferirsi agli studenti col solo cognome. Non fu molto conosciuta come pittrice durante la sua vita dato che non firmò i suoi lavori e raramente li espose, benché abbia lavorato per un periodo alla Omega Workshop.
Non fu membro del Bloomsbury Group, ma fu perifericamente associata con Bloomsbury e, più generalmente, con uno stile bohémien, anche a causa della duratura relazione con lo scrittore omosessuale Lytton Strachey e alle sue occasionali avventure lesbiche.
Due delle sue documentate storie d'amore furono quelle con Mark Gertler, uno stimato pittore inglese del periodo, e con lo scrittore Gerald Brenan. Sposò Ralph Partridge, ma visse la maggior parte della sua vita con Strachey. Lytton Strachey morì di cancro nel gennaio del 1932. Carrington si sparò due mesi dopo, dopo un primo tentativo di suicidio. Non voleva vivere senza Strachey, che aveva così profondamente amato.
Abile pittrice di ritratti e paesaggi, lavorò anche nelle arti applicate e decorative, disegnando su ogni tipo di superficie che avesse a portata di mano, tra cui insegne, tegole e mobili. Decorò anche delle ceramiche.
Carrington disegnò la bibloteca di Ham Spray e la casa in Ham dove visse insieme a Strachey ed a Partridge.
Dal 1970 circa, sono nettamente cresciuti gli apprezzamenti di critica e pubblico del suo lavoro.
La vita di Carrington con Strachey fu drammatizzata nel 1995 nel film Carrington, interpretato da Emma Thompson nel ruolo principale.