Carrington, Leonora (1917–2011) By Caplow, Deborah
Leonora Carrington was a painter, sculptor, poet and novelist who drew on mythology, fantasy and the occult to create images of a dreamlike world. She grew up in a wealthy family in England, educated by governesses, and was deeply influenced by the fairy tales her Irish nanny told her. Her parents sent her to convent schools, and although they expected her to become a socialite, they allowed her to attend Mrs. Penrose’s Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. Once back in London in 1936, Carrington enrolled in Amédée Ozenfant’s Academy of Fine Arts. She attended the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London, and was impressed by the work of Max Ernst, whom she met the following year. Carrington moved to France in 1937 to be with Ernst and joined the Surrealist circle in Paris; however, the two of them were separated at the beginning of World War II, and Carrington made her way to Mexico City, where she joined a group of exiled Surrealists. She based her Self Portrait of 1938 on Celtic myths, and after moving to Mexico, she included Pre-Columbian imagery in many of her works. In later years she divided her time between New York and Mexico City. She received the Order of the British Empire in 2000.