The Watson Archive Exhibition

January–March 2015

This exhibition of designs and cartoons by James Watson & Son, a stained-glass studio that flourished in Youghal in the nineteenth & twentieth centuries, allows visitors to the Crawford Art Gallery to appreciate some of the challenges facing Ireland's national cultural institutions today. The Watson Archive was acquired at auction in December 2014.

Consisting of over one thousand works on paper, including records, account books and other material, the Watson Archive is visibly in urgent need of conservation and restoration.

These wonderful drawings and designs are now part of the permanent collection of the Crawford Art Gallery, and so will be cared for, but their extremely fragile condition underlines the need for additional resources to be made available to the Gallery, to preserve an important part of Ireland's national visual arts heritage.

For many years, the Watson stained glass studio was a by-word for artistic excellence. In the 1880s, attracted by the growth in church building in Ireland, James Watson, originally from Yorkshire, settled in Ireland. Having worked with stained glass over many generations, the Watsons were well-placed to carry out commissions for windows for churches, both Catholic and Protestant, and for other buildings.

Although the workshop survived until recently, and was maintained by successive generations of the Watson family, much of the firm's finest work was done in the early years of the 20th century, as can be seen in the  designs and drawings displayed here, some of which date back to the 1890s. 

Exhibition Curator:  Vera Ryan
Assisted by Philip, Alex, Wendie, Fiona, Kathryn and Rebecca.

With special thanks to Deirdre Hewetson and Dr. Julian Campbell

The Watson Archive Exhibition will run from January to March 2015

Our Choice 2014


Our Choice is an exhibition annually held at the Crawford Art Gallery. Each work on display has been chosen by staff members and the exhibition is a tribute to all colleagues giving them an opportunity to choose a piece of work reflecting their own personal tastes. Our Choice 2014 is run in conjunction with a new publication, ‘Three Centuries of Irish Art’, and both celebrate the permanent collection of the Crawford Art Gallery. 

The permanent collection has expanded to over 3,000 works since its inception. Moving toward the 200th Anniversary of the Crawford’s foundation, recognition and acknowledgment of the collection seems appropriate by the present day staff of the Crawford Art Gallery.

The AIB Collection

Ongoing 2015

The AlB Art Collection has few parallels in terms of quality. 

The star of the collection is Jack B. Yeats' A Race in Hy Brazil. Described by Oskar Kokoschka as the 'greatest painter in the world', Yeats depicted the people and landscapes of Sligo and the West of Ireland using colour in a glorious and uninhibited way. He did much of his best work during the 1940's and 50's, when received wisdom would hold that Ireland was a drab and grey place. If this be true, then AlB and its support of the arts played an important role in the country's emergence from these grey years, and it is fitting that the three works by Yeats coming to the Crawford are amongst his best: A Race in Hy Brazil has a marvellous dream-like quality while Now or Never and Shelling Peas in Moore Street capture quintessential moments of everyday life.

John Luke's tempera panel The Lock at Edenderry and William Scott's Blue Still Life with Knife were also inspired by aspects of everyday life, as was Nathaniel Hill's Goosegirl in a Breton Farmyard and Joseph Malachy Kavanagh's Cockle Pickers. The AlB Art Collection also records the struggle for political independence, and the equally arduous road towards making Ireland a modern nation state. Sean Keating's On the Run, War ofIndependence recalls the early 1920's, when ambushes, raids and reprisals were a common occurence and yet during this same period artists such as Mainie Jellett, Mary Swanzy and Evie Hone could still travel to London and Paris to study art. These talented artists returned to Ireland, where they avidly promoted Modernism, including Cubism, in an art world that had up to then been rather blinkered, and dominated by male academic painters. A key work by Mainie Jellet is Composition with 3 Elements, while Evie Hone's Landscape, Co. Wicklow is an early and fine example of her work.

William Orpen, represented in the AlB collection by The Boxer, inspired a later generation of realist painters including Maurice MacGonigal, whose Races at Ballyconneely is a delightful evocation of windswept Connemara. Walter Osborne had also studied on the Continent, and when he returned to Dublin, he concentrated on intimate portraits and quiet landscapes, such as A November Morning, an evocative late-Impressionist work.

Paul Henry produced many post-impressionist views of West of Ireland landscapes, a fine example being Lough Altan, where the carefully built-up tonal values reflect his studies in Paris under James MacNeill Whistler . Grace Henry's artistic vision, gentler and more intimate than that of her husband Paul, has always found favour with art lovers and her painting Claddagh Market is a superb example of her style.

Of the Irish artists who studied on the Continent it was Roderic O'Conor who most closely embraced Post Impressionist movements such as Fauvism, and this is reflected in his magnificent Red Rocks Near Pont-Aven and Anemones. After studying in Brittany, William Leech lived for many years in England, painting quietly and producing such beautiful canvases as Chrysanthemums and Studio 

Colin Middleton experimented with Expressionism and Surrealism, as in his, Market Day, Moonlight Ballyholme and Winter, while Patrick Collins also forged a very individual and delicately-handled style of abstraction, seen at its best in Travelling TinkersBog Country and A Place with Stones,works that evoke memories of Fragonard and Watteau.

Harry Kernoff continues the thread of everyday life that links many of the works in the AlB collection, with his view of ordinary people enjoying themselves, in Sunny Day, Dublin and The Forty FootSandycove, while Gerard Dillon never lost sight of his background, instead transforming his experience of years of adversity into magnificant paintings such as Cut Out, Drop Out and Still Life.

The traumas associated with conflicts in Northern Ireland in the 1970's and 80's are eloquently represented in F. E. McWilliam's bronze sculpture of a woman shopper caught in a bomb blast. While the lure of southern France and the Mediterranean finds colourful expression in John Lavery's Habiba, as it does also in Micheal Farrell's more recent Au
Soleil d'Or.

The painter Tony O'Malley had started out on a career as a bank official only turning to art later in life, and it is apt that his Ripe Cornfield in the Wind and Big White Flower Pot are two works from AlB that will be coming to the Crawford. William Crozier has a particular affinity with West Cork, and is represented by two fine paintings, Walking to the Sea and The River Boundary (Lough Hyne).

Donated in February 2012 by AlB to the State, this fine collection of some of the best works of Irish art will become part of the Crawford Art Gallery's permanent collection.Peter Murray

DISPLACED: The Alice Schwab Collection of 20th Century Art

15 April–8 June, 2015

A selection of work on paper from the personal collection of Liesel Rosenthal (Alice Schwabb), an avid collector of German and British prints of the 1920’s and 30’s, including works by Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945), Paul Nash (1889–1946), Anthony Gross (1905–1984) and Carel Weight (1908–1997). A refugee from Germany in the 1930's, Schawb settled in London, where she built up a personal collection of art that evokes memories of a post-war Europe very different to that of today. 

For further information please contact:
Anne Boddaert 
021 4907857


27 June–12 September 2015

Crawford Art Gallery presents Figure / Abstract, a major exhibition by the internationally celebrated artist Seán Scully. 

Figure / Abstract is Scully's first ever museum show in Cork and coincides with his seventieth birthday on June 30.

Figure / Abstract will feature works from 1964 to the present, most of which have never been exhibited before. Scully is best known for the epic 'stripe' paintings he has made since the early 1980s: few are aware that he explored figurative painting before turning to abstraction. The exhibition will feature examples of his earliest drawings and paintings, tracing his evolution as an artist through the 1960s and into the 1970s and beyond. The largest work featured is Horizontal Soul (2014), a monumental oil on canvas over eight metres in length.

To mark the occasion, and to celebrate Scully’s achievements as an Irish artist on the international stage, the Crawford Gallery will restore the sinead fada over the ‘a’ in the spelling of  ‘Seán’ for the duration of 
Figure / Abstract‘s
 run in Cork.

Curated by Marc O’Sullivan and Tina Darb.

To view a video of Seán Scully in conversation about his work, please click here

For further information please contact:

Nineteenth Century Works from the Permanent Collection

Until 26 March

‘Our Mutual Friend’: Portraiture and Genre Painting in Victorian Cork draws from the permanent collection of the Crawford Art Gallery. The collection has recently expanded to include six portraits generously donated by the Dorman family, which form the centre-piece of the exhibition. The Dorman family were closely involved in education, technological progress and in Cork’s business and cultural life.

Dr. Samuel Hobart, whose large portrait is seen on first entering the exhibition, was one of eleven children of Samuel and Eleanor Hobart, of Eyre Court in Co. Galway. Having qualified as a medical doctor he moved to Cork around 1820, marrying Charlotte Abbott, daughter of Samuel Abbott, who owned a brewery in the city. A member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Hobart was a brilliant surgeon. He served in the House of Industry and Cork Lunatic Asylum, and also worked at the North Charitable and South Charitable Infirmaries.

On the right hand side of the centre wall, portrayed wearing ‘preaching tabs’, and with his hand raised in blessing, the Rev. Thomas Dorman in 1850 married Charlotte Isabella Hobart, daughter of Samuel Hobart. One of their sons, John William, became an engineer on the British Guiana State Railway, while another son Richard, studied at the Royal Indian Engineering College in London, before embarking on a successful career as a surveyor. A third son, Edward Hobart, was secretary of the company that maintained the West Cork Railway, while a fourth, Major Thomas Dorman, was in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Their portraits, by James Butler Brennan, can be seen not only as works of art displaying technical skill, but also as visual documents in which members of the family wanted themselves to be recorded for posterity. In contrast with the more flamboyant eighteenth century, in these portraits the men wear black, while the women are dignified and reserved. The portrait of Charlotte Isabella Dorman depicts her soberly attired, with little in the way of personal ornamentation. She wears a lace cap and collar, aspects of dress that were becoming increasingly important in late nineteenth century Cork, where lace-making was being
taught in convents and schools throughout the county. The school founded in 1829 by Charlottes’ mother, also named Charlotte, three decades later moved into the Hobart’s former home and was known as Rochelle School. It is now part of Ashton School.

The exhibition also includes landscape, maritime and genre paintings that provide background and context to the Dorman portraits. The paintings by Daniel MacDonald, Eviction Scene and Bowling Match at Castlemary Cloyne depict two very different scenes of rural life. In the first, a family are being ejected from their smallholding, while in the second, two members of Cork’s merchant aristocracy indulge in a game of road bowling, with an avid audience looking on. A series of genre paintings by James Brenan, headmaster at the School of Art, depict aspects of life in county Cork, and vividly illustrated the hardships and challenges faced by families living in rural areas. While on first glance A Committee ofInspection appears to be an innocuous view of a cottage interior with a weaver at work, in fact it is a critical commentary on the negative effects that mass-produced textiles were having on the indigenous hand weavers of Co. Cork. Brenan’s Letterfrom America is an eloquent painting, showing how the young girl, who has attended National School, is now the only person in her family able to read. The bleak realities faced by many Irish rural communities in the mid nineteenth century are captured by MacDonald and Brenan, as well as brief interludes of happiness and contentment. The genre paintings of William Magrath, a Cork artist who emigrated to the United States later in the century, are more sentimentalised, and show how depictions of Ireland were becoming standardised and stereotyped.

In Cork, as in other cities in the British Empire, a new rising middle class sought to remove itself from the libertarianism that had characterized much of aristocratic life in the previous century. Growing in numbers and confidence, this middle class supported Realism in art and literature, and the depiction of modem life.

The nineteenth-century maritime paintings, mostly the work of local artist George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson and his family, attest to Cork’s importance as an international port city. Most of these “ship portraits” were commissioned by the owners or captains of the vessels. They also document the technological changes of the time, with sailing vessels being superceded by steamships. The spirit of enquiry during this era meant that people were torn between differing systems of belief. Science vied with religion, nationalism with empire, and conservatism with radical movements. The Romantic Movement provided an escapist route for those less impressed with the benefits of railways and industrialisation.

Women and men were restricted by gender, class and clothing. The middle class could be objectified, domesticated and their moral worth evaluated. The idealized Victorian portrait displays gravitas and restraint, with the chaste woman a standard for Victorian society as a whole. This conditioning began in childhood, as is vividly displayed in the Portrait ofMabel Arnott by Jenny Ashton Hackett, a graduate of the Cork School of Art. The young girl, wearing an elaborate dress, holds sprigs of lilac and laburnum. Lilac symbolizes early love, while the latter symbolized danger. The painting is in fact a coded narrative, which would have been understood instantly by a Victorian audience. The sensual instincts that lurked beneath this codification provided a justification for the gendered separation of public and private spheres, and a warning against impropriety and the abandonment of social
and moral order. Realistic depictions of women were outnumbered by the extremes of constructed femininity, and painters helped to reinforce societal values by portraying ideal physical types, roles, deportment and environments.

The James Butler Brennan portraits are shown in this exhibition interspersed with examples of actual lacework, reflecting the importance of this industry in Cork and the economic independence it provided for women in a patriarchical society. Headmaster of the Cork School of Art from 1860-1889, the genre painter James Brenan (not the same artist as J. B. Brennan) was particularly interested in the development of the lace industry. Brenan was at the forefront of the development of this craft, one that could be utilized in both a rural and urban setting. Female portraits often displayed detail of lacemaking and were a decorative
embellishment upon often restrained and simple costume.

The religious imagery on display in this exhibition is further testament to the transcendental and spiritual aspects of Victorian life and society. These paintings convey a wide range of human emotions, such as grief, intense love and loss, emotions notably censored in the stiffness and rigidity of the Victorian portraiture. These religious images reveal some of the psychological conflicts, which existed, in Victorian society. Religion, as well as providing a belief system, also provided a way of expressing strong emotions
and sentiments, which were repressed beneath the veneer of Victorian respectability.

The Art of the Silhouette in 19th century Cork


ncluding works by Augustin Edouart (1789-1861), Stephen O’Driscoll (c.1825-1895), and miniature portraits of members of the Crawford Family

Augustin-Amant-Constant-Fidèle Edouart (1789-1861), born in France, was a member of Napoleon’s army. After the Napoleonic Wars, he lost most of his property and was forced to move to England in 1814. He first tried to make a living teaching French, but soon turned his attention to hair art. He made devices and landscapes in human hair -“mosaic hair works”- and also models of animals covered with their own hair. 

Around 1825 Edouart began silhouette cutting and was able to snip a perfectly executed silhouette likeness in less than 5 minutes. He adhered strictly to the limitations of his art, and did not add brushwork to embellish his silhouettes, as others did, but rather indicated the whites of collars and handkerchiefs by cutting away parts of the black paper to expose the white mount beneath. 

He had a large and profitable practice in London, but like other practitioners in his form of art he moved about from place to place, visiting the large towns in England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1830 he moved to Edinburgh, where he cut silhouettes of the court of the exiled Charles X of France. 
He moved to Dublin in 1833. He took rooms at 27 Westmoreland Street, and there held an exhibition of his works, his models of animals as well as his silhouettes. His studio soon became crowded with sitters, and during his stay in Dublin he took six thousand portraits. His work was favourably noticed in the Dublin papers. 

Edouart moved his practice to Cork in 1834. Edouart took rooms at 77 Patrick Street, from where he set off to Kinsale, Bandon, Youghal and other nearby towns, taking hundreds of portraits. While in Cork he employed Unkles and Klasen, 26 South Mall, to print lithographed background, on which he mounted his silhouettes. In 1835 his book A Treatise on Silhouette Likenesses was published by Longman and Co., Paternoster Row, and J. Bolster, Patrick Street, Cork. It contained full-page illustrations of portraits and fancy subjects lithographed by Unkles and Klasen, including a self- portrait. 

Edouart went to America in 1839 were he remained for ten years, cutting and cataloguing silhouettes of the most important Americans of the time. He always cut his silhouettes out of doubled paper, and retained one copy in a set of bound volumes. When he was in Cork these volumes already contained over fifty-thousand silhouettes. 
In 1849, Edouart set out to return to England on the ill-fated ship, Oneida, which wrecked off the island of Guernsey. Although all of the passengers and crew were saved, only fourteen of Edouart’s folios were rescued. The volume containing the portraits done in Cork was saved.

The sufferings he was exposed to, and the loss of almost all his books containing duplicates of his silhouettes, the greater part of his life's work, so affected him that he never again followed his profession. He returned to France where he died at the age of 72.

Unlike Edouart, who only started to embellish his silhouettes with pencil or chalk in 1842 –probably due to the overtaking of his profession by photography- Cork silhouettist Stephen O’Driscoll (c. 1825-1895) often touched up his figures with gold or paint.

O’Driscoll was based in Pembroke Street, Cork and worked as a lithographer. He produced a number of caricature portraits and silhouettes, which found ready sale in local print shops. Over the years, O’Driscoll produced portraits of most of the prominent citizens of Cork, as well as street characters and beggarmen.Later in his career, he worked with his daughter Mary. Together they completed a large picture with hundreds of silhouette figures, Assembly of Citizen in front of Commercial Buildings, South Mall (1870),now in Cork Public Museum.

Further readings: A Dictionary of Irish Artists, W.G. Strickland, 1913 

Kathy Prendergast

10 April–13 June, 2015

This exhibition (April 10 - June 13) brings together new work by Kathy Prendergast, an artist whose sensitivity to issues of individual and collective existence has resulted in some of the finest work made over the past three decades. Featuring a new work commissioned by the Crawford, this exhibition sees Prendergast furthering her research in mapping, power and perception.  

Curated by Ingrid Swenson, (Peer, London) the exhibition will be shown in the historic Gibson Galleries, and will incorporate an installation over twenty metres in length, exploring pertinent questions of our times, as offered by over 40 leading social thinkers and commentators.

Save the date!  
Thursday 23 April, 6pm - Kathy Prendergast in conversation with Ingrid Swenson (Director, Peer, London).
followed by publication launch and drinks reception. 

For further information please contact:

Art and Patronage in 18th. Century Cork


Eighteenth century Cork was a thriving port, with a recognisably Dutch appearance along its quays, shown in
The View of Cork by John Butts. This building, the then Custom House, can be identified in the centre, displaying
the Union Flag. Cork traded with the burgeoning British Empire, absorbing cosmopolitan influences and creating
many local fortunes, among them the Penroses of Woodhill.
Presenting for the first time a group portrait of the Penrose family, this room also highlights some of the gallery’s
eighteenth century works which happily have a Cork relevance, and thus surround the Penroses with a familiar

Cooper Penrose, a Quaker, was born in 1763 and after moving to Cork made a fortune from trading in timber.
After his marriage to Elizabeth Dennis, daughter of another Quaker timber merchant, Penrose’s business
prospered immensely and their home at Woodhill, high above the banks of the river Lee, near Lover’s Walk,
became so very magnificent that local Quakers became most uneasy - eventually ostracising the family.
The Penroses built up a renowned art collection, even commissioning a portrait of Cooper from Jacques-Louis
David in Paris. They also owned works by James Barry (1740-1806) - one of which The Prince of Wales in the
Guise of St. George, now hangs outside this room. It may justly be assumed that the Penroses bought a set of
Barry’s Adelphi prints, Barry’s talents having been nurtured by certain Cork Quakers, and the Penrose sons also
gave financial support to Barry’s estranged sister who remained here in Cork. Catholic Barry never lost his deep
admiration for this religious group, and the earlier version of his engraving - and the original painting in the
Royal Society of Arts, London - of the group of legislators in Elysium and Tartarus (see far wall) had William Penn
in the foreground, until he was later replaced by Lord Baltimore, to whom Barry gave the laurels for fostering
even greater religious tolerance in America than had the Quakers. The often irascible, headstrong Barry even
wrote to Penrose to explain this apparent volte-face, and such carefulness of another’s feelings says much about
the deeper nature of Barry, and the great affection he retained for Penrose.

The Woodhill gallery, as it was locally known, contained paintings by old masters as well as prominent
contemporary artists including Angelica Kaufmann (1741-1807), and local painters such as John Butts (c.1728-1765)
and Nathanial Grogan (1740-1807). Penrose’s sons later welcomed young Cork artists Daniel Maclise (1806-1870),
Samuel Forde (1805-1828), and John Hogan (1800-1858) to the house, where these eager students would copy the
best paintings - just as they copied, for the purposes of anatomical study, the very casts you see in the Sculpture
Gallery downstairs.

The inclusion of portraits of Dean Swift and his companion Stella, and those of Mr. and Mrs. Emmet may seem fanciful
by the criterion of any Woodhill connection, but they are used here allusively. The Emmets had a more famous son,
and in his case the Penrose connection is strong - and fascinating. Jonathan Swift deserves inclusion on the grounds of the likelihood his works having been read by Penrose - but also for mere whimsy, in that Swift does indeed have a Cork connection, even if fictional, in the fertile imagination of ‘Father Prout’.

N.B. In 1724, when this building was erected, it functioned as Cork’s Custom House. Clerks worked in this room
handling bills of lading and other documentation, looking our of the high windows onto the river swerving through
what is now Emmet Place

Head to Head Vivienne Roche

15 May–26 September 2015

From Strachaire Fir by Joseph Higgins (1916) to the bronze head of her nephew Stephen Archer: Tight Head Prop (2014), Vivienne Roche RHA curates an exhibition of sculptures called Head to Head in the historic Sculpture Galleries.  The exhibition will run from May until September 2015 and includes a series of heads commissioned by the Arts Council from artists Conor Fallon RHA, Kathy Prendergast and Brian Bourke. 

For further information please contact:

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