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.

Advertisements

John Luke RUA (1906-75)

John Luke 1The Irish landscape artist and figurative painter John Luke was born in Belfast and worked in a shipyard and Flax Mill before taking night classes at the Belfast School of Art. There, he won a scholarship and the following year a prize in a Royal Dublin Society competition which led him to travel to London to study fine art painting, drawing and sculpture at the Slade School of Art under Henry Tonks. The artists Tom Carr and F. E. McWilliam were his contemporaries at the time. After exhibiting at the Redfern Galleries in London, he completed a mural for a travel company, spending the proceeds on a trip to Paris. After this, he took evening classes in figure painting at the Westminster School of Art under Walter Bayes and showed at the Leger Gallery.

In 1931 he returned to Belfast. By now, landscape painting was his dominant interest. In 1933 he exhibited with the Northern Ireland Guild of Artists. More exhibitions followed, in Belfast and at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in Dublin. In 1938 he assisted in the painting of a frieze for the Ulster Pavilion in the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow. The following year he represented Northern Ireland at the New York World Fair. During WWII Luke stopped painting for a spell and retired to a cottage in County Armagh, earning his living by teaching art at Manor House school.

(c) Neville McKee; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

In 1946, Luke had a solo exhibition of his oil and tempera paintings at the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery: a total of 85 artworks including four sculptures. In 1947 John Luke’s work was included at an exhibition of noted Ulster artists in London. Then, in 1948, the Northern Ireland Council For Encouragement of Music and The Arts (CEMA), the forerunner of the arts council of Northern Ireland, held a retrospective for Luke in Belfast. In 1951, Luke painted a mural for the Festival of Britain in his characteristically, formalized style. There is another mural of his in the Masonic Hall, Rosemary Street, Belfast, and an oil The Old Callan Bridge in the County Museum, Armagh. From 1953 he lectured at Belfast College of Art.

John Luke spent his final years – after the death of his mother – in relative poverty in a flat in Duncairn Gardens, Belfast, and died in the Mater Hospital in 1975. The following year, the Arts Council of Ireland mounted an extensive exhibition of his work at the Ulster Museum and the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin. His artworks appear in several public and private collections, including: Ulster Museum, Belfast; County Museum, Armagh; Queen’s University Belfast; and many more.

The highest price paid at auction for a painting by John Luke was recorded in 1999, when his landscape, entitled The Bridge, was sold at Christie’s, in London, for £41,500.

Grace Henry HRHA (1868-1953)

Grace Henry 1Grace Mitchell (1868-1953) was raised in Aberdeen, and exhibited her early work with the Aberdeen Artists Society. Leaving Aberdeen around 1899, she pursued her artistic studies in Brussels in the Ernest Blanc Garic Academy. The Academy accepted female students, but they had to use a separate entrance. In Paris, she attended the Decluse Academy, and then the Academy Julian where she met Paul Henry. Through Paul Henry, the American artist James McNeill Whistler came to influence her work, leading to the prevalence of nocturnal scenes and affecting her choice both of subject and colour.

Her painting The Girl in White (1912 Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin) is reminiscent of Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl (1862, National Gallery of Art, Washington) in its subject, its controlled brushwork and as a tonal study.
Paul Henry and Grace Mitchell were married in London in 1903, having moved there a couple of years earlier to further their artistic careers. Their trip to Achill in 1910, intended to last a fortnight, became a nine-year stay. Both artists painted extensively during these years, but in very different styles. Paul Henry’s Irish landscapes are typically muted in tone and focus on lake and mountain scenes. In contrast, Grace Henry often painted nocturnal scenes,working out of doors but using artificial lights to aid her in her compositions. In Evening Star, Achill (1912, Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin) her use of colour is particularly striking in the vivid blue of the sky. Her works from this period show both the use of a rich palette, and a concern with atmospheric effects. She also painted figural groups in the west of Ireland. Top of the Hill (c.1920, Limerick City Gallery of Art) is a warm scene which gives a sense not just of the western landscape, but also a sense of the community. The painting shows a group of women stopping for a chat at the top of a hill. One woman looks out of the painting, smiling at the viewer. Their shawls and head-scarves, and the green fields and rolling clouds, are typical of portrayals of rural Ireland. However, Henry’s style, with its bold colours and heavy outlines, is very striking.

Grace Henry 2Along with her husband Grace Henry was a founding member of the Dublin Society of Painters which sought to promote young Irish artists. During the 1920s and 1930s she travelled in France and Italy, training under André Lhote, whose students Evie Hone, Mary Swanzy and Mainie Jellett were to bring Cubism to Ireland. However, his influence is not as strong on Grace Henry’s work, which never fully adopts a Cubist style. Grace Henry’s work has often been overshadowed by that of her husband, and the inscription on one of her paintings in the Hugh Lane Gallery reads “Mrs Paul Henry”. However, an examination of their work shows that Grace Henry was the more adventurous of the two – her works are more varied, and show modern influences, such as that of Cubism and Japanese prints. The Henrys exhibited together in St Stephen’s Green Gallery and the Magee Gallery in Belfast, among other venues, up until their formal separation in the early 1930s. Following this, she continued to travel and to paint. Grace Henry was made an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1949 and her work can now be seen in many Irish art institutions.

Norah McGuinness HRHA (1901-1980)

Norah McGuinness 1The Irish landscape artist, graphic designer and illustrator Norah McGuinness was born in County Derry, Northern Ireland. She studied drawing and fine art painting at the Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin (now the National College of Art & Design), the Chelsea Polytechnic, London, and then (on the advice of Mainie Jellett and Evie Hone) under the French artist André l’Hote, in Paris.

From France, McGuinness moved to London, becoming a member of the avant-garde London Group, and from 1937-39 she lived in New York. After America, she returned to settle in Dublin in 1940. She was elected an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in 1957 but resigned in 1969.

Norah McGuinness executed vivid, highly coloured, flattened landscape paintings, (as well as still-life and portrait art) in a spontaneous style influenced in part by the colourist Fauvist movement and the artist Lhote. Although her painting remained figurative, her work reveals the Cubist influence of Lhote, and she was associated with the modern movement in Ireland. A founder member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art (she succeeded Mainie Jellet as President in 1944), McGuinness (like Maurice MacGonigal) first showed at the RHA in 1924 and became an honorary member (HRHA) in 1957. She exhibited her paintings and designs in Ireland at the Victor Waddington Galleries and The Dawson Gallery, Dublin, and in London at the Wertheim Gallery. Together with Nano Reid, she represented Ireland in the 1950 Venice Biennale.

In addition to paintings, Norah McGuinness executed a large number of book illustrations, theatre sets and costume designs during her career. She also designed the sales windows of Altman’s in New York and Brown Thomas, Grafton Street for over thirty years.

Norah McGuinness 2In 1968, a retrospective for Norah McGuinness artworks, numbering over 100, was staged by the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College Dublin. Another retrospective took place at the Frederick Gallery, Dublin, in 1996.

Her work appears in all the major Irish public collections – including: Hugh Lane Art Gallery, Dublin; Arts Council of Ireland; Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Ulster Museum, Belfast; Crawford Art Gallery, Cork; Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; University College Dublin; Waterford Art Gallery Collection; The Victoria and Albert Museum London; Meath County Council – as well as in several important overseas collections such as the Joseph H. Hirschorn collection in New York.

The auction record for a work by Norah McGuinness was set in 2006, when his landscape painting, entitled The Little Harvest, Mayo, was sold at James Adams, in Dublin, for €210,000.