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CODRINGTON 'HORDE' FOUND

Kenneth Guichard in British Etchers 1850-1940 wrote in his entry for Isabel Codrington

Perhaps the future discovery of a Codrington horde will reveal her capabilities and some of those accomplished landscapes mentioned by Malcolm Salaman.

Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. March. Original etching, c1930.

Some years ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to see, and purchase, just such a horde; the residue of Codrington’s etching studio. She etched for only a few years around 1930 and produced twenty-two plates in all. They include her “accomplished landscapes”, as well as Continental town scenes and figure subjects.

I have intended for some years to make a web exhibition of Codrington’s etchings and finally it is realised.

The Etchings of
Isabel Codrington
Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset, while on a visit

Isabel Codrington, painted by Philip Alexius de Laszlo. Image courtesy Lyon & Turnbull.

Portrait study of Isobel Codrington, painted by Philip Alexius de László, c1909

Isabel Codrington, from a pastel by John Byam Shaw. Image courtesy Lyon & Turnbull.  

Isabel was born Isabel Codrington Pyke-Nott (though from 1918 she used only her first two names as an exhibiting artist). She grew up on a country estate in Devon with dilettanti parents. Her father was an amateur playwright and her mother an artist, an ambience in which both she and her elder sister became interested in painting from an early age; both in their turn training at art school.

Isabel attended Hastings School of Art from the age of twelve and was only fifteen when she was enrolled at the R.A. Schools in 1889. Within five years she was participating, as Isabel C Pyke-Nott, in the Academy’s annual Exhibition; showing three oils, two watercolours and a miniature in the five years between 1894 to 1898.

In the 1890’s she got to know the influential art critic and writer Paul Konody. They married in 1901 and during her marriage to him she would concentrate more on bringing up their two daughters than on painting and exhibiting.

Socially the Konodys moved in artistic and literary circles. Isabel’s brother-in-law was the painter Byam Shaw (who painted her portrait in pastel in 1904 – see left). Other friends included Mortimer Menpes; the architect Edwin A Rickards; Gustavus Mayer, a director of Colnaghi in Bond Street (who would become Isabel’s second husband); and Ezra Pound.

In 2015 Lyon & Turnbull auctioned an unpublished letter from Ezra Pound to Isabel with a charming manuscript poem. It was posted to her in 1909 and read

I can’t find an old poem fit to gratify your modest ambition so I have made a new one which I hope you will grace with acceptance. I have made it an Elizabethan Sonnet because in that form alone is the thought governed with sufficient elegance of confection to be in fitting harmony with Mrs Konody whose abject slave I Subscribe my self herewith, E.P.

If poets whom you know are not all fools,
Methinks my songs but march amid the rout.
Unless ice burns and burning fire cools
No bard could look on you and not speak out.
It can not be that I monopolize
The making of the songs that give you praise
Or that such pools as are your dearest eyes
Have just one bather through the foison(?) days.
Then, let me take my place amid the pack,
If I so pack my songs with your rare worth
There were no quality they then should lack
But they were bettered by that happy dearth.
Thus all my days were coined of richest pleasure,
And no dark thought should soil my sunny leisure.

Around 1910 the Konodys travelled in Italy with Rickards and Mayer, which resulted in 1911 in Konody’s book Through the Alps to the Apennines and ultimately to Konody divorcing Isabel.

In 1913 she and Gustavus Mayer, with whom she had been having an affair, were married. Mayer encouraged her to resume painting, which she took up again in 1918. She was soon commissioned by the French National War Museum to paint the Cantine Franco-Britannique, Vitry-le-François (now in London in the collection of the Imperial War Museum).

From 1918, right through the 1920’s, she exhibited regularly (as Isabel Codrington) at the Royal Academy Summer shows and from 1923 at the Paris Salon. She also had exhibitions in commercial galleries, at the Fine Art Society in London and with Knoedler in Paris.

An article was dedicated to her paintings in The Studio in 1925.

Her success is further recorded in the French art periodical "Les Artistes d'Aujourd'hui", which in October 1926 illustrated her painting Old Man Reading on the front cover.

In translation this review of the 1926 Royal Academy annual show by Herbert de Plessis comments

How much I enjoy the simple unaffected art of Isabel Codrington! Can you think of anything more true to life or closely observed than the painting Old Man Reading which she is showing at this year's Royal Academy of Arts. Through the work of this very fine painter we can detect the firm constitution, honest design and vivid use of colour which are the true attributes of really good painters. Isabel Codrington has an acute sensitivity, a clarity of observation which nothing can escape and an exceptional sense of colour. She has full control of an impeccable technique and a very personal style …

The article concludes

Need we list some of her works? Everyone remembers The Inn which belongs to the Toronto Museum, The Greengrocer's Shop, adorning the entrance hall to Bristol Municipal Art Gallery and the very well known French Canteen which was commissioned by the art committee of the Musée National de la Guerre and for which she undertook sketches at Vitry-le-François. Once again with Old Man Reading Isabel Codrington shows the boundless depths of her notable talents …

Isabel Codrington, The Blouse Shop. Click this image to visit the website of Anthony Woodd

Isabel Codrington: "The Blouse Shop". Oil on canvas, 1923
[Click on image for information on availability]

Isabel Codrington was therefore at the peak of her career as a painter when in 1928 she first took up etching.

Isabel Codrington, Exhibition Catalogue, 1933

In the five years that elapsed before the exhibition of 18 of her etchings at Colnaghi in 1933, the ever increasing public enthusiasm for the medium through the boom years of the early and middle 1920's had largely dissipated. Despite good reviews in the press, Isabel Codrington, in common with many artists in a similar position, did not continue with etching after 1934.

Codrington’s etchings, like her paintings, are in the British realist tradition. While the majority of her paintings were figure compositions, her etched output comprises nearly as many pure landscapes as other subjects. She was inspired by the chalk landcape of the North Downs, where she and Mayer lived at Wistlers Wood, a mock-Tudor mansion on his country estate in Surrey.

She also etched Continental street scenes from their travels abroad. Codrington’s etched figure subjects, again mainly Continental, are on occasion based on earlier paintings.

Impressions from twenty of Codrington’s twenty-two plates still remained in her studio at her death in 1943 and are offered here. The two plates not represented, no impressions being available, are The Market, Freiburg-in-Breslau, and an unfinished plate based on her painting of a tramp asleep in a barn lit by a candle on top of a barrel (illustrated to the right).

Isabel Codrington, Signature in Pencil

Most of the plates are signed with her monogram initials IC. Only some of the prints in the exhibition are signed in pencil.
She probably initially only signed a few impressions from each of the editions of 40, and would sign further impressions only as they were required.

All the prints were inherited by her daughter, also an artist and then in turn by her grandson.

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The Exhibition

To view the entire Exhibition, print-by-print, click this link and then follow the prints through the Gallery by using the "next print >" and "< previous print" navigation buttons. Alternatively, you can select an individual print from its thumbnail or title in the list below.

Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Chalk Pits from above. Original etching, c1930.   ISABEL CODRINGTON
Chalk Pits from above

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Chalk Pit Works. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
The Chalk Pit Works

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. A Quiet Evening. Original etching, c1930.   ISABEL CODRINGTON
A Quiet Evening

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. The Monastery on the Hill. Original etching, c1930.   ISABEL CODRINGTON
The Monastery on the Hill

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. A Street in Spain. Original drypoint, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
A Street in Spain

Original drypoint, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Early Spring. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
Early Spring

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Courtyard, Bamberg. Original etching, c1930.   ISABEL CODRINGTON
Courtyard, Bamberg

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. The Bridge, Bamberg. Original etching, c1930.   ISABEL CODRINGTON
The Bridge, Bamberg

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. The Broken Hedge. Original etching, c1930.   ISABEL CODRINGTON
The Broken Hedge, Early State

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. The Broken Hedge. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
The Broken Hedge, Later State

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. The Bridge, Todi. Original etching, c1930.   ISABEL CODRINGTON
The Bridge, Todi

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. The Old Violinist. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
The Old Violinist

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. The Window of Trees. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
Window of Trees

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Ash Patterns. Original etching, c1930.   ISABEL CODRINGTON
Ash Patterns

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Italian Hill Town, No.1. Original etching, c1930.   ISABEL CODRINGTON
Italian Hill Town (N°.1)

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Italian Hill Town, No.2. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
Italian Hill Town (N°.2)

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Vegetable Stall. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
Vegetable Stall

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. The Onion Rover. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
The Onion Rover

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. March. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
March

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Coming Storm. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
Coming Storm, Proof, Early State

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Coming Storm. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
Coming Storm

Etching, c1930
Isabel Codrington, Swimbridge, Devon 1874 – 1943 Minehead, Somerset. Coming Storm. Original etching, c1930. ISABEL CODRINGTON
Grand’mère Cottet

Etching, c1934
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Isabel Codrington, Exhibition Catalogue, 1933

 

 

 

 

 

Codrington’s last, and unfinished, plate