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The Gathering by Maurice MacGonigal PRHA (1900 1979)

The Gathering

Date: N.D.
Dimensions: 59.5 × 77cm
Medium: Oils
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Purchased in 1969

Description:

Like his friend Seán Keating, Maurice MacGonigal was an academically trained artist who had strong links to the Royal Hibernian Academy and was not afraid to express his distaste for new ideas which he felt undermined tradition.

In 1969, the year that this painting was acquired by the Model and Niland, MacGonigal resigned from his position as the Professor of Painting at the National College of Art.
His decision was the result of the students’ revolt against the conservatism of the curriculum which he believed eroded ‘the professional authority of the college’. In the same year, he strongly criticised the Irish Government on the tax-free concessions that it was offering to artists, arguing that such plans would fill Ireland with the ‘art parasites of Europe’.

Despite his reactionary views on the art world, MacGonigal’s late work displays the effects of artistic experimentation. In paintings such as The Gathering, the expressive brush strokes create a sense of animation and rhythm that is at odds with his earlier realist style. While still drawing inspiration from the landscape and people of the west, during the last decade of his life, MacGonigal used a new expressive aesthetic to reinvigorate his familiar subject matter.

Written by Riann Coulter

Maurice MacGonigal PRHA (1900 – 1979)

Born 1900, Dublin, Ireland.
Died 1979, Ireland.

Born in Dublin, a cousin of artist Harry Clarke, MacGonigal, began work as an apprentice in his uncle Joshua Clarke's stained-glass studio in North Frederick Street. From 1917 he was a member of Na Fianna Eireann, and after being interned firstly in Kilmainham Jail and later at Ballykinlar Camp, Co. Down, he took up evening art classes at the Dublin Metropolitan School.

He won the Taylor Scholarship in 1924, and in the same year exhibited at the RHA for the first time. After a trip to Holland in 1927 to study painting, he returned to Dublin to teach art at the RHA's schools and as a relief teacher at the DMSA. He was made a full member of the RHA in 1933 and served at the Academy's Keeper 1936-1939 and 1950-1961.

In 1962 he was made President, an office he held until 1977. McGonigal's choice of subject matter was influenced by Sean Keating: early life in the west of Ireland. His work is now represented in all major collections in Ireland.



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