Dimensions: 41 × 50.75cm
Medium: oil on board
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Donated by The Haverty Trust, 1961
Norah McGuinness was born in Londonderry where her father was a coal merchant. In 1921 she won a scholarship to the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art and later studied for a period at the Chelsea Polytechnic in London.
In 1929, after the break up of her short lived marriage, McGuinness went to study in Paris with the Cubist André Lhote. While the influence of Cubism can be seen in works such as Garden Green, Les Bigoudenes is painted in a naïve or ‘primitive’ style reminiscent of Gauguin or George Rouault.
The painting depicts Breton women wearing traditional tall lace headdresses, known as Bigouden, that are specific to the Pays Bigouden region of Brittany. Many artists including Gauguin and the Irish post-Impressionist painter Roderic O’Conor had been inspired by the landscape and inhabitants of Brittany. Breton women dressed in traditional costume feature in Gauguin’s celebrated painting Vision after the Sermon 1888 and in many of O’Conor’s paintings including “Une Jeune Bretonne” c.1903.
The date of this painting is unknown but a work titled Brittany was included in an exhibition of McGuinness’ work at the Leicester Galleries, London, in 1951 suggesting that she had been painting in the region at that time.
Written by Riann Coulter