Portrait of E M Forster by Dora Carrington


Dora Carrington painted this portrait of E M Forster in 1920, when Forster was 41 and already a very successful novelist. Carrington was connected to the Bloomsbury group mainly through her relationship with Lytton Strachey, whom she first met in 1915. Little is known about the process of painting of this striking portrait, although it is thought that Forster never posed for it.[1]

Who was Carrington?

Born in 1893, Dora Carrington was a scholar of the Slade School of Art, where her work won several prizes. She probably became acquainted with the members of the Bloomsbury group through society hostess Lady Ottoline Morrell, and she became especially close to Lytton Strachey, with whom she had an intense but mostly platonic relationship until his death. Carrington’s work was primarily autobiographical, depicting the people and landscapes she knew. She painted portraits of Strachey and the writer Gerald Brennan, and Virginia Woolf commissioned her to create the illustrations for the first book published by the Hogarth Press, Two Stories, in 1917. Unable to overcome the loss of her beloved Strachey, Carrington committed suicide a few months after his death in 1932.

Carrington’s looks and personality also inspired several fictional characters. She appeared as Mary Bracegirdle in Aldous Huxley’s novel Crome Yellow, and as Minette Darrington in D H Lawrence’s Women in Love.

[1] Jane Hill, The Art of Dora Carrington (London: The Herbert Press, 1994), p. 106.

Full title:
Portrait of E M Forster by Dora Carrington
c. 1924–25
Artwork / Image
Dora Carrington
Usage terms

E. M. Forster
by Dora Carrington
oil on canvas, 1920
NPG 4698

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Held by
National Portrait Gallery
NPG 4698

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