Rhodes, Marion Archive

Scope and Content

3 paintings and 40 pencil drawings, mostly signed, which Marion Rhodes completed as assignments whilst attending Huddersfield School of Art at the beginning of her career.

Administrative / Biographical History

MARION RHODES 1907-1998

Artist, Painter, Etcher

Born in Lockwood, Huddersfield, 1 sister. Daughter of wealthy wool manufacturer. She studied at Huddersfield School of Art, Leeds School of Art (1925-29) and Central School of Arts and Crafts, London (1934-39). She taught Art in Scunthorpe before moving to London where she also taught.

In 1952 an etching of the view from Spring Grove, looking towards the Colne Valley scored a triple success – RA, RSA and Paris Salon.

She exhibited at the RA for 37 unbroken years from 1934. Her work was regularly shown at the RA, Royal Scottish Academy, Burlington House. Her work is also exhibited in the British Museum and the V&A.

She became a member of the Society of Graphic Art in 1936 and a member of the Royal Society of Engravers in 1953.

She was also known for her aquatint engraving.

In 1973 Huddersfield Art Gallery purchased 3 of her etchings. In 2006 they held a retrospective exhibition of her work.

Her work was inherited by her nephew John Denham of Hertfordshire.

From Mill Hill Preservation Society webpage (http://www.mhps.org.uk/famous-people.asp) which lists famous people who have lived in Mill Hill:

Painter, etcher and aquatint engraver of landscapes and architectural views – Marion Rhodes was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, in 1907. She was enrolled at the Leeds College of Art when her father was killed in an accident. With no intention of abandoning art, she nevertheless found it prudent to fulfil the requirements for a teaching certificate, which at that time included a course on etching.

After some years of teaching in the provinces, she found an art teacher’s job in London that she was able to combine with part-time evening studies under William Robins at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Economic necessity kept her in teaching, but a career in etching had become her primary goal. Determined not to let teaching interfere, she resisted all temptation to advance in the ‘education hierarchy’: “You can’t be a head mistress and go on with your work”. For fourteen years she taught only part-time because she wanted “the middle part of [her] life to be productive.” At West Ham High School, she could finish at 3.30 and then go, twice a week, to the Central School. At the Enfield County School, where she taught subsequently, she found a “good atmosphere” that allowed her to keep up with her art. She retired from teaching in 1960.

Though still a recent convert when etching went out of fashion, Marion Rhodes never ceased producing plates. Between 1928 and 1940, with hardly a market and no financial incentive, she had produced about 150 etchings, aquatints and soft grounds. Nor did she slow up during the disruptive period when her school was bombed during the Second World War. She even secured a special permit to needle an etching of St. Paul’s during the German blitz. Marion Rhodes was elected member of the Society of Graphic Art in 1936. In 1941, aged thirty-four, she was elected an associate Royal Etcher and in 1953 she became an R.E.

Until at least the end of the 1970s, she continued to work in the older style of the 1920s and never missed a chance to exhibit in the annual exhibition. However, she only ever illustrated one book. Some of her plates were fully editioned, but she never tried for a “one-man” show or sought an agent, a road that, as she saw it, was “all right if you want to make a living at it.” During her lifetime she exhibited at the Royal Academy and at the Paris Salon, where she won gold, silver & bronze medals. Her work is represented in several public collections, the British Museum and the V&A.

Marion had not, in 1980, “retired from the etching press.” In fact, she had bought a small press to be able to work at home. Comfortable with her own modest lifestyle, she chose to put low prices on her prints believing etching was “for ordinary people to have an original at a reasonable price,” - she wanted to share this enjoyment with others. Marion kept on working into her old age and printing her own etchings of the locality, these being sold through the art shop in the Broadway run by John Maxfield. When John Maxfield gave up the lease and retired he passed on the Marion Rhodes images of the locality to the Mill Hill Preservation Society with the rights to duplicate and sell them to raise funds for the Society.

Marion used to live at 2 Goodwyn Avenue and died here in Mill Hill in 1998.

Conditions Governing Access

Original available for consultation by appointment

Conditions Governing Use

Marion Rhodes