Frank McKelvey RHA RUA (1895-1974)

Frank McKelvey 1The Irish landscape artist and portrait painter Frank McKelvey was born in Belfast in 1895. Initially a poster designer, he studied drawing and painting at the Belfast School of Art where he won the Charles Brett prize for figure drawing in 1912.

His drawings from the nude also received commendation, and in 1914 he won the Fitzpatrick prize for his figure sketches. In 1917 he won the bronze in Dublin’s Taylor art competition.

Frank McKelvey first attracted attention with his pictures of ‘old’ Belfast, and his landscape painting. In 1917, his artwork was accepted by the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) when he was only 23. For the next fifty-five years he showed every year at the RHA. In 1919, he showed five paintings at the Water Colour Society of Ireland exhibition. In 1921, McKelvey was elected a member of the Belfast Art Society. He was appointed an associate member ARHA of the RHA in 1923, and in 1930 he became a full member. In 1930, along with Hans Iten, Charles Lamb and others, he was elected one of the founding academicians of the Ulster Academy of Arts.

Frank McKelvey 2Frank McKelvey’s paintings were shown at various exhibitions during his lifetime, including: the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery; the exhibition of Irish art in Brussels (1930); the Hackett Galleries, New York; Ulster House, London; Contemporary Irish Art exhibition in Aberystwyth; Royal Ulster Academy; Royal Hibernian Academy; the Oireachtas; solo shows at Locksley Hall in Belfast, Victor Waddington Galleries in Dublin and Ulster House in London. During his career, McKelvey was thought of as being on the same artistic level as the landscape artists Paul Henry and James Humbert Craig. However, McKelvey was also a prolific and skilful portraitist, painting the portraits of a wide range of subjects including: thirteen US Presidents with roots in Ulster. He also executed a number of marine and naval paintings.

Frank McKelvey died on June 30, 1974. Five years later, an exhibition of his oils and watercolours was held at The Oriel Gallery, Dublin. Examples of his art can be found in numerous public and private collections, in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Most Expensive Work by Frank McKelvey

The auction record for a work by Frank McKelvey was set in 2005, when his painting, entitled The Good Companions, was sold at Whytes, Dublin, for €102,000.

Peter Curling

Peter CurlingThe Irish equestrian artist and horse portrait painter Peter Curling was born in Waterford in 1955. His exceptional talent as a teenage artist led to his first exhibition in the racing centre of Lambourn at the age of 14, followed by sell-out shows in Dublin.

Not long after, Curling caught the attention of both Aylmer Tryon, art-dealer and founder of the Tryon Gallery, and the renowned horse portraitist Susan Crawford. Acting on their advice, Peter Curling went to Florence (like Niccolo D’Ardia Caracciola before him) where he spent two years studying drawing and fine art painting under the master artist Signorina Simi, a contemporary of Annigoni. He also learned the depiction of movement and speed from studying sculpture under John Skeaping.

Returning to the UK, Curling enjoyed several successful exhibitions in London and Ireland before deciding to relocate permanently to Ireland. In 1977, he moved to Tipperary, a famous horse-breeding and horse-training region and rapidly established himself as leading equine painter in the world of visual art in Ireland. For the next 15 years or so, Curling focused on almost exclusively on horse portraits, but such repetition understandably caused a degree of creative stagnation. His response was to widen both his subject matter and artistic locations. He spent more time on landscape painting and sought inspiration in Venice. In addition, he began producing cartoons and caricatures of individuals from the world of racing.

Peter Curling 2Peter Curling had his first London solo exhibition at the Tryon Gallery in 1978 and has shown there regularly ever since. His paintings of horses have also been exhibited in Lexington, Saratoga and New York. In 1992 he had a very successful exhibition in Dublin at Jorgensen Fine Art.

The auction record for a work by Peter Curling was set in 2006, when his horse-racing painting, entitled The Scarteen Point-to-Point, Kilfeacle, was sold at Christie’s, in London, for £66,000.

George Campbell RHA (1917-1979)

George Cambell 3One of Ireland’s foremost landscape artists and still-life painters, George Campbell was born in County Wicklow and received his schooling in Dublin. His mother was the noted artist Gretta Bowen. George Campbell started painting in Belfast in 1941, partly as a reaction to the wartime bombing of the city. He first exhibited in 1944, alongside his friend Gerard Dillon, with whom he shared painting trips to Connemara. He first showed at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in 1948, in company with Dillon and Daniel O’Neill, and continued to show at the RHA over the next 30 years.

Campbell’s artistic range included landscapes, still-lifes, figure painting and historical works. He won the Douglas Hyde Gold Medal for both the best history painting at the Oireachtas and for the best landscape. He painted in watercolours, oils, and mixed media, and produced a number of etchings and crayon drawings. He also undertook several commissions in stained glass. In 1951, George Campbell made his first visit to Spain, a country which so captivated him that he returned there to paint nearly every successive year. This Spanish influence appears in his work in the form of bullfighters, gypsies, street scenes and musicians. He exhibited several times in Madrid, even learned to play the guitar, and was honoured as a Knight Commander of Spain in 1977.

George Cambell 4Campbell’s paintings appeared in many exhibitions during his lifetime. He had his first showing at Belfast’s Mol Gallery in 1944, then in 1946 he exhibited at Waddington Galleries in Dublin – the first event in a long association with the art dealer Victor Waddington. His artworks also showed at the Ritchie Hendriks Gallery, Dublin, the Tom Caldwell Gallery, and at the IELA, the Oireachtas, and the water Colour Society of Ireland (WCSI). The Northern Irish Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) sponsored a number of solo exhibitions for Campbell in 1949, 1952 and 1960, being then replaced by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for one-man shows in 1966 and 1972. George Campbell’s pictures are represented in most major public and private Irish collections of art.

Campbell was appointed an associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in 1954 and a full member in 1964. The Water Colour Society of Ireland (WCSI) elected him a member in 1954. Both the BBC and RTE screened profiles of Campbell in the 1970s. He died in Dublin in 1979.

Most Expensive Work by George Campbell

The auction record for a work by George Campbell was set in 2007, when his landscape painting, entitled Evening In Connemara, was sold at Sotheby’s, London, for £50,400.