Monday, April 27, 2009

The Watcher

The Watcher, ca.1914
Paul Henry (1876-1958)
oil on canvas
Private collection,
Image: Grey Art Gallery, NYU

I have a wonderful address book full of Irish paintings with a focus on people & places in Ireland. The art focuses on everyday Irish life. This is not one of the paintings in my book (I wasn't able to find any of my favorites) but it is by one of the artists represented and features a girl in a red skirt.

This painting was part of the exhibition, When Time Began to Rant and Rage: Figurative Painting from Twentieth-Century Ireland, at the Grey Art Gallery at NYU.
During the late 19th c. a new emphasis began in focusing on creating a distinctly Irish identity in art. Previous to this time, Irish artists allied themselves with styles of England or the Continent. This painting and others of the time tied the figure and in turn the individual to the Irish land. The painter, Paul Henry, was one of a group who was even more focused on maintaining strong physical and emotional ties to the land, while many still retained an internationalist bent. One can easily catch both the emotion and physicality in the strong rich brushstrokes depicting the girl's skirt and crashing waves she looks out at. A feeling of contemplation by the simple gesture we make through a bit of paint which shows us her left hand resting upon her chin or lower face. The wind blows her skirt back yet she stands tall against it, the dark clouds representing an imminent storm.

List of Northern Irish artists

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