Leonora Carrington: Rebel Visionary

12 Jul-26 Oct 2024

Newlands House
Petworth GU28 0DX


In May 2024 Leonora Carrington became the most successful female artist in UK history, in terms of sales: her painting Les Distractions de Dagobert (1945) was sold at Sotheby’s in New York for USD$28.5 million.

Her legacy is now on a new footing.  Last year, the Wall Street Journal predicted she would be the next Frida Kahlo.  Like Kahlo, Carrington’s life was as surreal as her paintings; like Kahlo, she drew heavily on her own extraordinary experiences in her work.

For many years, this eventful life story – especially her love affair with Max Ernst, and her spell in a Spanish asylum, which fascinated others in her Surrealist circles – have been central to discussions of her work.  But Carrington was no muse.  As she said: “I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse… I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist.”

Leonora Carrington: Rebel Visionary (12 July – 26 October) will re-examine her work in the light of her posthumous success.  An artist who broke boundaries and created imaginative new worlds. Carrington was – like all the greats – a creator in many different directions.  As her long-time friend and patron Edward James said:  “She…never relinquished her love of experimentation; the results being that she [was] able to diversity and explore a hundred or more techniques for the expression of her creative powers.”

This summer, Newlands House Gallery in Petworth, Sussex brings together a wide range of Carrington’s work, to show the span of her output across a wide range of media. Loans will include a wall of masks; a series of masks made for a theatrical production of The Tempest in the 1950s; original lithographs; tapestries; sketches; sculptures; jewellery – and of course paintings.  Together they will show the full range of Carrington’s prolific and original output, across a career that spanned eight decades.

As the feminist art collective The Guerrilla Girls wryly commented, being a woman artist comes with certain advantages: these include being able to work without the pressures of success, and discovering your career picks up in your eighties.

Today, more than a decade after her death in May 2011, Carrington’s time has come.  Newlands House Gallery will focus on the breadth, the variety and the extraordinary imagination of work across her eight-decade career.