Charles Lamb RHA (1893-1964) Ireland

Charles Lamb 2The Irish landscape artist, portrait and figure painter Charles Lamb was born in  County Armagh. He studied painting and life-drawing at night classes at Belfast School of Art, before winning a scholarship to the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin in 1917 where he came under the influence of Sean Keating. He began exhibiting at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1919, and thereafter averaged about 4 paintings per show until his final years. The following year he painted his masterpiece “Dancing At A Northern Crossroads”.

In 1922 Charles Lamb went to Connemara, settling in a remote Irish-speaking part of  County Galway. In 1923 he was elected ARHA and from then on year-after-year he held regular solo exhibitions, showcasing over 50 landscapes in 1924 at the St Stephens Gallery. In 1925, he travelled in Ireland and in 1926 he toured Brittany. More exhibitions followed, in Belfast, Waterford, Brussels, Boston and New York. In 1928 he visited the Aran Islands. In 1930 (along with Hans Iten, Frank McKelvey and others) he was elected one of the first members of the Ulster Academy of Arts. In 1935 he returned to Connemara where he established an art summer school. In 1938 he was elected a full member of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA). Later that year he travelled to Germany. In 1941 he exhibited in Northern Ireland at Belfast and Portadown, while his “Bringing Home The Seaweed” was presented to the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin. He continued painting actively right up until his death in 1964.

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In a different way to the idealised scenes of Sean Keating, Charles Lamb was one of the first painters to paint a type of heroic Western peasant, thus marking the difference both between the rural and the urban, and between Irish culture and one with English, European and American influence.

Charles Lamb’s paintings are represented in many collections including: the Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin; the National Gallery of Ireland; the Limerick City Art Gallery; Ulster Museum, Belfast; Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork; and many others.

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Jack B Yeats (1871-1957)

Jack Yeats 1Jack Butler Yeats was born in London in 1871, the youngest son of Irish portraitist John Butler Yeats, and the brother of the Nobel Prize winning poet William Butler Yeats. He studied painting and drawing at the Westminster School of Art under Fred Brown, before leaving to work as a graphic artist, cartoonist, illustrator and water-colourist.

While he began using oils from about 1897, Yeats did not regularly produce oil paintings until 1905, preferring to work in watercolours. His early artworks were romantic depictions of landscapes and figures from the west of Ireland, particularly from his home in Sligo. He was influenced by the French Impressionist masters in the art collection of Sir Hugh Lane and began exhibiting at the Royal Hibernian Academy from 1899.

After residing in London, he lived in Devon (England) for fourteen years, before moving to Greystones in county Wicklow. In 1917, he moved to Dublin. From around 1920, he developed a much more Expressionist style, moving from illustration to symbolism.

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Sympathetic to but not active in the Irish Republican movement, he began to produce emotional, yet realistic, paintings of urban and rural life in Ireland. At the same time, he started using a wider and brighter range of colours – often applied very thickly with implements other than a paint-brush – along with free and loose brushstrokes. His compositions included genre paintings of circuses, music halls, and horse races, sombre landscapes of Ireland’s west coast, as well as scenes from Celtic mythology. In 1924, he was awarded the silver medal for painting at the Tailteann Games.

After the death of his wife in 1947, to whom he had been happily married since 1894, his work became increasingly nostalgic. Retrospective exhibitions of his paintings were held at the National Gallery, London, 1942, in Dublin 1945, in the London Tate Gallery 1948, while a showing of his last works was staged at the Waddington Galleries, London, in 1958.

Although some critics have dismissed Jack B Yeats’ artwork as irrelevant, an exhibition of his paintings at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, in 1971, revived his reputation as perhaps the most important modern painter in the history of Irish art. Jack B Yeats passed away in Dublin on March 28, 1957.

Maurice MacGonigal PRHA (1900-79)

Maurice MacGonigal 1

The landscape and portrait artist Maurice MacGonigal was born in Dublin, becoming a design apprentice in his Uncle’s firm which designed and produced stained glass. MacGonigal’s cousin, the artist Harry Clarke (who married the painter Margaret Crilley) gave him much encouragement.

MacGonigal mixed politics with art studies, managing within a few years to be interned at Ballykinlar Camp, take drawing and figure drawing classes at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (now the National College of Art and Design) and win the Taylor Scholarship in painting. He also won the Tailteann silver medal for landscape.

After a visit to Holland in 1927, where he studied fine art painting at the Hague, he returned to Dublin where he taught in the Royal Hibernian Academy Art Schools and also at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art becoming a very influential teacher and eventually Professor of Painting.

Influenced in his art by Sean Keating, Maurice MacGonigal maintained a particularly fruitful association with the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), exhibiting each year from 1924 to 1978 a total of more than 200 paintings.

He was elected an academician of the RHA in 1933. In addition, he exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), London and the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh.

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He was elected a member of the board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland as well as the Keeper of the Academy from 1936-1939 and President from 1962-1977. For much of his artistic career, MacGonigal was an influential figure in the visual art scene of Ireland, representing the more academic and conservative trend or style of art, as opposed to the more avant-garde approach of Mary Swanzy, Nora McGuinness and Louis le Brocquy.

Maurice MacGonigal had solo exhibitions at both Victor Waddington Galleries, (1944) and Taylor Galleries (1978) in Dublin, while in 1991 the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery staged a retrospective of his works. He showed at numerous Oireachtas. MacGonigal’s work is now represented in all major collections of Irish art, including: Ulster Museum, Belfast; Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork; Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Dublin; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; Limerick City Gallery of Art (includes National Collection of Contemporary Drawing); Waterford Municipal Art Gallery Collection.

Most Expensive Painting By Maurice MacGonigal

The auction record for a work by Maurice MacGonigal was set in 2006, when his landscape painting, entitled Harbour at Roundstone, Connemara, was sold at DeVeres, in Dublin, for €32,000.