Dimensions: 54 x 50cm
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Presented by James A Healy, 1975, (Josephine C Healy Memorial Collection)
This lithograph, by the celebrated American artist George Bellows, belonged to the New York stock broker, James A. Healy. Bellows was part of Ash Can School; who recorded everyday life among New York’s working class in sympathetic and often gritty detail. The Irish Fair was one of a series of illustrations that he created for “The Wind Bloweth”, a novel by Donne Byrne set in nineteenth-century Ireland. Although this series included works such as “Irish Grandmother” and “Old Irish Woman” there is no evidence to suggest that Bellows ever visited Ireland. He did, however, know John B. Yeats who spent his final years in New York.
Bellows may have based this image on an Irish fair in New York. The ancestors of contemporary St. Patrick’s Day parades, such fairs were an opportunity for Irish emigrants to celebrate the culture that they had left behind. Inevitably, these events focused on romantic notions of Ireland and located the essence of Irishness in the west.
The presence of pumpkins in the foreground further confirms an American setting and it has also been suggested that the model for the central figure, holding a raised cane, was the Ash Can artist Robert Henri (1).
1. Lauris Mason & Joan Ludman, The Lithographs of George Bellows: A Catalogue Raisonne, New York, 1977, p.153.
Written by Riann Coulter