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WORK OF THE WEEK | 25 March 2019

CAG.2773 Mary Swanzy, Samoan Scene, 1924, oil on canvas, 152 x 192 cm. Donated to the State, 2012 (AIB Art Collection). © The Mary Swanzy Estate.

WORK OF THE WEEK! Let us whisk you away to the South Seas with this idyllic scene of Samoa by artist Mary Swanzy (1882-1978).

Dublin-born Swanzy painted Samoan Scene (1924) during her extraordinary travels to the far side of the world in the early 1920s. Exhibiting in Paris, London, and Dublin in 1923, she set out for Hawaii at the end of that summer. Traveling via Quebec, she stayed with her uncle’s widow at La Maison Blanche in Honolulu for several months. Then, in late May 1924, she sailed 2,600 miles to Samoa where she stayed at the home of an American doctor.

During her time in the South Pacific, Swanzy created an extraordinary body of work which is unique in Irish art. Canvas after canvas, and ‘stunned by how many greens there were in the world,’ the artist captured the light, colour, and abundance she found in the Samoan landscape. Her treatment of the Samoan population in her paintings is dignified and significantly less problematic than, say, in the Tahitian works of Paul Gauguin.

Samoan Scene (1924) was donated by AIB in 2012 and forms part of an impressive display of over 80 paintings in MARY SWANZY: Voyages. Curated by Seán Kissane, the exhibition runs in our Lower Gallery until 3 June 2019.

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