Description: signed lower left
Dimensions: h:18 w:20in.
Artist or Maker: Paul RHA (1876-1958)
Medium: oil on canvas
Exhibited: 'Paintings by Mrs. Frances Baker, Grace Henry, Paul Henry, Casimir Dunin-Markiewicz and George Russell (AE), Leinster Hall, Dublin, 16-21 October, 1911, catalogue no. 35 or 36
Literature: Kennedy, S.B., Paul Henry, Paintings Drawings Illustrations, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2007, catalogue no. 342, p.162 (illustrated)
Provenance: Private collection;
Adam's, 28 May 2003, lot 86;
Whence purchased by the present owner
Notes: In original Waddington frame.
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The form of the signature, with dots between the two words of the artist's name and after the word Henry, signify that this composition must have been painted shortly after the artist arrived on Achill Island in August 1911. The village of Keel, where in his autobiography, An Irish Portrait (1951), he tells us he settled, is seen from the high ground to the north-west, the long and graceful sweep of Trawmore Strand dominating the middle distance. The scene has been rendered with remarkable economy of means, there being only moderate impasto, but a great sense of fluidity, in the handling of the paint. As is characteristic of Henry's painting at this time the brushwork is rigorously descriptive of form and structure and the use of subtle blues and greys to emphasise the recession of the landscape is a foretaste of the strong Whistlerian influence that would soon emerge in his painting. The use of upright brushstrokes, as seen in the near foreground, is characteristic of other Henry pictures of this time. There is an almost identical, but smaller, composition of the same title and period to this in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Nowadays the village of Keel is larger, although not substantially so, so that the main thrust of the landscape can clearly be seen. Henry's excitement at his new-found surroundings is also evident in his rendering of the landscape.
Dr SB Kennedy