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WORK OF THE WEEK | 16 December 2019

CAG.183 Grace Henry, Mountain Sheep, 1946, oil on canvas, 41 x 52 cm. Purchased, Royal Hibernian Academy, 1947 (Gibson Bequest Fund). © the artist’s estate.

Mountain Sheep (1946) displays Grace Henry’s typical use of bold, fluid brushstrokes and simplified forms to communicate the humble qualities of her subjects. Throughout her career, she experimented with various modernist styles, from Fauvism and Cubism to Expressionism.

Scottish artist Grace Henry HRHA (1868-1953) was a significant figure in twentieth-century Irish art. A distant relation of Lord Byron, she was born Emily Grace Mitchell in Kirktown St. Fergus, Aberdeenshire and began to exhibit as an artist in her late twenties. She would subsequently study at the Académie Blanc-Garin, Brussels and Académie Delécluse, Paris.

In 1903, she married the Irish painter Paul Henry (1876-1958) and, having first lived in London, the couple moved to Achill Island in 1912. This proved to be a defining moment in both of their careers. Grace Henry frequently returned to Dublin, however, and the couple relocated there in 1919. The following year, she co-founded the Society of Dublin Painters with her husband, Mary Swanzy, Jack B. Yeats, and Letitia Marion Hamilton.

The artist began to travel and work in Europe from 1924, after her separation from Paul Henry, initially studying under André Lhote in Paris. She later exhibited back in Ireland at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Victor Waddington Galleries, and the Dawson Gallery.

Mountain Sheep (1946) by Grace Henry is featured in THE GIBSON BEQUEST 1919-2019: Selecting, Collecting & Philanthropy.

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