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University of Texas at Austin

D. H. Lawrence:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Lawrence, D. H. (David Herbert), 1885-1930
Title: D. H. Lawrence Art Collection
Dates: 1903-1930, undated
Extent: 1 box, 7 paintings (5 framed), 1 sculpture, 4 custom boxes (46 items)
Abstract: The collection consists of art works by D. H. Lawrence including oil paintings on canvas, works in other media, facsimile prints, and sketches by D. H. Lawrence and Knud Merrild. Also included in the collection are works by other artists including Collingwood Gee, Kai Gotzsche, Knud Merrild, Justin Murray, and Jo Davidson.
Call Number: Art Collection AR-00151
Language: English
Access: Open for research. A minimum of twenty-four hours is required to pull art materials to the Reading Room.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchases (R1456, R2030, R2054, R3984, R4060, R4228, R5089, R5180, R5331), and gift (1974)
Processed by: Alice Egan, 1997, and Helen Young, 2001

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

David Herbert Richards Lawrence was born September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, near Nottingham, to Arthur Lawrence, a coal miner, and Lydia Beardsall. He attended Nottingham University College, and in 1908 he took a teaching position at Davidson Road School in Croydon. Lawrence wrote in his spare time, and in 1911, with the help of Ford Maddox Hueffer, he published his first novel, The White Peacock. Poor health forced him to resign his teaching job this same year, at which time he became a full-time writer. He soon published The Trespasser (1912) and Sons and Lovers (1913).
While on a visit to Germany in 1912, he met Frieda von Richthofen, the wife of Nottingham University College professor, Ernest Weekly. The two traveled through Germany and Switzerland, and rented a room in Riva, Austria, near the Italian border. They returned to England in 1914, and were married shortly thereafter in London. The years of World War I were spent in the London area, and then in Zennor, Cornwall. They left England in 1919, first going to Florence, and then to other parts of Italy. In 1922, following a trip to Ceylon and Australia, the couple settled in Taos, New Mexico, at the invitation of the arts patron, Mabel Dodge Luhan. In Taos they lived on a ranch with Dorothy Brett, an English painter, and became friends with the painters Knud Merrild and Walter Ufer. Lawrence returned to Italy in 1925, and for the next five years he also spent time traveling around Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Spain. During this time he published Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), which was attacked by the press, and copies were seized by the police. At the end of the following year, Lawrence moved to the south of France. He died at a clinic in Vence, France, on March 2, 1930.
Aside from one lesson in painting from George Leighton Parkinson, D. H. Lawrence did not have formal art training beyond the basic teachings he received as a schoolboy. His early works were copies of others' works, created as gifts for his family or friends. Lawrence did not have much opportunity to view original works of art while he was growing up; his exposure to art was mainly through reproductions in magazines, books, calendars, and postcards. In 1906 he received as a birthday gift from the family of his friend, Jessie Chambers, six of the eight parts of English Water-colour: with Reproductions of Drawings by Eminent Painters (London: The Studio, 1902), which were accompanied by a portfolio of facsimiles of the art works. From these facsimiles, Lawrence became more familiar with different watercolor techniques. From that time on, Lawrence continued painting and studying art, and even taught art while employed as a teacher in Croydon.
While Lawrence was in Florence in 1926, Maria Huxley brought him four blank canvases, which inspired Lawrence to begin a series of original works. In 1929, he held an exhibition of his paintings at the Warren Gallery in London, but Scotland Yard confiscated thirteen of the paintings because they were considered to be obscene. Facsimiles of the exhibited paintings were published in The Paintings of D. H. Lawrence (1929). Lawrence also published an essay about his paintings, "Making Pictures," in The Studio (July 1929).


Aldington, R. "David Herbert Lawrence." In J. R. H. Weaver (ed.), The Dictionary of National Biography, 1922-1930 (pp. 492-494). London: Oxford University Press, 1937.
D. H. Lawrence & the Visual Arts. Nottingham: Castle Museum, 1985.
Lawrence, D. H. Paintings of D. H. Lawrence. London: Cory, Adams & Mackay, 1964.
Merrild, K. A Poet and Two Painters. London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1938.

Scope and Contents

The Collection consists of art works by D. H. Lawrence, as well as works by other artists that relate to Lawrence. It is organized into two Series: I. Works by D. H. Lawrence, and II. Works by Other Artists. Titles of Lawrence's oil paintings are taken from his Paintings by D. H. Lawrence, edited by Mervyn Levy (1964). Other titles are transcribed from the items; cataloger's titles appear in brackets.
Series I., Works by D. H. Lawrence, is subdivided into A. Oil Paintings on Canvas; B. Works in Other Media; C. Facsimile Prints; and D. Sketches by D. H. Lawrence and Knud Merrild. Works are organized by accession number within each subseries. The twenty-seven original works by D. H. Lawrence were created between 1903 and 1929 and include oil paintings, watercolor paintings, and drawings. Of the four oil paintings in the collection, two (Boccaccio Story and Resurrection) were exhibited in the 1928 Warren Gallery exhibition; Boccaccio Story was one of the paintings confiscated by Scotland Yard. Early works include a watercolor with German text painted for his Davidson Road School student, J. Adderley; two watercolors painted in the autograph album of a Davidson Road School colleague named Smith; and a watercolor seascape painted for his friend, Mary Goddard.
The series also contains paintings on porcelain push plates, two of which were presented to his friend, Kitty Holderness, daughter of George Holderness, the head-master of the British Schools in Eastwood where Lawrence was a Pupil Teacher. Additionally, the collection has Kitty Holderness' autograph album, which includes a watercolor landscape and inscription from Lawrence.
Also present are a number of works created for various literary works. There is a group of five sheets of rough sketches done in Taos by D. H. Lawrence and the Danish artist Knud Merrild of designs for dust jackets and book ornaments for Kangaroo, Studies in Classic American Literature, and Birds, Beasts and Flowers. (Merrild describes this collaboration in his 1938 book A Poet and Two Painters.) Other works by Lawrence include sketches for Sons and Lovers, tailpiece designs for The Escaped Cock, and a watercolor illustration to the traditional ballad "The Two Magicians" (or "Coal-black smith").
Works by Other Artists are listed alphabetically by creator and include portraits of Lawrence by Collingwood Gee, Kai Gotzsche, Knud Merrild, and Justin Murray, and a bronze sculpture bust of Lawrence by Jo Davidson. There is also a bas relief in wood by M. F. K. Fisher of Lawrence's emblem, the phoenix, and a proof of a wood engraving by Blair Hughes-Stanton created for the 1930 Cresset Press edition of Birds, Beasts and Flowers.

Related Material

Other Lawrence-related works are held by the Ransom Center's Art Collection: a watercolor and an ink and pencil drawing by Frieda Lawrence (Spud Johnson Collection); a watercolor and an embroidery canvas by Frieda Lawrence in a frame built by D. H. Lawrence (William Goyen Collection); an oil painting portrait and a woodcut portrait, both of Lawrence, by Dorothy Brett (Dorothy Brett Collection); a portrait drawing by Peter Evershed of Frieda Lawrence (Peter Evershed Collection); and a pencil drawing of Frieda Lawrence (Georges Schreiber Collection). The Ransom Center also has extensive D. H. Lawrence materials in its Manuscripts Collection, its Library, and its Photography Collection.

D. H. Lawrence Art Collection--Item List