Dimensions: 59.5 × 77cm
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Purchased in 1969
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