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Form and volume are created with light and shadow rather than brush direction.


Influences


Maclise’s training in London was in the style of Joshua Reynolds. On a trip to Paris in 1844, he was greatly influenced by the French and Italian Renaissance work he saw.


Continental influence


From about 1850 on, Irish artists began to find their way into European art academies, particularly Antwerp, and Paris, which had become an important centre for new developments and ideas in art.


A new approach to painting was developing in the French academies and in the artists’ colonies that sprang up in the small towns around the Forest of Fontainebleau, south of Paris.


Impressionist colours


The Impressionists used a colour palette based on theories of light. They excluded earth colours and black, using colours close to spectrum colours:


NOTE!


Subjects changed from formal classical or Romantic themes to scenes from the everyday lives of ordinary people and pieces of simple landscape.


Techniques also changed. Brushwork became looser and paint was applied thickly to allow artists to work more quickly and expressively, capturing changing light and colour as they worked outdoors. Paintings for exhibition were still finished in the studio, working from sketches made directly from life.


red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Modern synthetic paints produced a better colour range. Newly invented tin tubes allowed artists to carry paint outdoors more easily.


Roderic O’Conor (1860–1940)


Born in Roscommon into a land-owning family with an ancient history, O’Conor had independent means and did not need to make his living by his art, which left him free to experiment with the most advanced styles and ideas of his time. He became integrated with French art and did not often exhibit with other Irish artists.


His early art education was in the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. He furthered his education in Antwerp and then worked under Carolus-Duran in Paris in the 1880s. He was aware of the Impressionists and admired Sisley in particular. He would have seen the work of Gauguin and Van Gogh in the Salon des Indépendants in 1889. O’Conor exhibited for many years at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne.


By 1892 O’Conor was working in Brittany in an advanced Post-Impressionist style. His Field of Corn, Pont-Aven (Fig. 7.7) owes a lot to the style of Van Gogh. Bold stripes of colour contour the landscape, emphasising its form, while the powerful colours radiate heat. He continued working in this ‘striped’ technique for the next 10 years while he lived in Brittany, painting landscapes, seascapes and Breton women in traditional costumes.


Paul Gauguin was the leading artist in the group of painters who lived around Pont-Aven. When he returned from his first Tahiti trip in 1894 he became friendly with O’Conor and they were close for a few years, though O’Conor maintained an independent style. He did not exhibit for the 10 years from 1893 to 1903.


CHAPTER 7: IRISH ART IN THE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES 129


ART IN IRELAND


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