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evenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines. Elements of the composition should then be placed along the lines or at the intersections. This arrangement is supposed to create more energy and interest than simply centring the subject.


Daniel Maclise (1816–1900)


Maclise was born in Cork and had his early training at the Cork School of Art. He financed his further education in London and Paris by selling portraits and landscapes. By the 1830s he was an established painter, working on large, detailed canvases and smaller subject pictures such as The Falconer (Fig. 7.4), which hangs in the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork. In the 1850s he painted part of the mural decorations in the House of Lords in London. The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher on the Field at Waterloo and The Death of Nelson are considered to be his finest works.


Maclise was a popular and successful artist in London. He drew illustrations for Fraser’s Magazine and illustrated books for Dickens and other writers and moved in their social circles. He won medals at the Royal Academy for his drawing and painting early in his career and painted historical and literary subjects throughout his life.


The Marriage of Aoife and Strongbow


Subject


The subject is the marriage of Aoife, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, to Strongbow (Fig. 7.5). Strongbow was the leader of the Normans who came to Ireland to help MacMurrough to regain his kingdom, but he went on to invade the country. It is a sentimental portrayal of the destruction of Celtic Ireland by the Normans. It is full of symbolism, like the old man in the left foreground playing the harp with the broken strings, a symbol of Ireland. A lot of effort went into the details of clothing, jewellery and weapons.


Fig. 7.4 The Falconer by Daniel Maclise, Crawford Art Gallery, Cork


Composition


A circle of light and gesture links the figures in the lower centre, where Aoife joins hands with Strongbow. The dark figures of the Normans form a band across the middle third of the painting. The defeated Irish form two large triangular figure groups in the foreground (Fig. 7.6).


Style


The work is in the style of Italian Renaissance figure paintings, with accurate drawing of figures and details of costume and still life. The whole effect is theatrical, from the dramatic poses to the shallow stage the scene is set on.


Technique and materials


This is an accurate, smoothly finished oil painting in great detail. The brushwork is hardly visible.


CHAPTER 7: IRISH ART IN THE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES 127


ART IN IRELAND


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