Country Scene by Maurice MacGonigal PRHA (1900 1979)

Date: N.D.
Dimensions: 75.25 × 62 × 75.25cm
Medium: Oil on canvas
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Presented by James A Healy, 1975 (Josephine C Healy Memorial Collection)


The son of a painter and decorator from Sligo, Maurice MacGonigal was born in Dublin and gained his early art education through an apprenticeship in his uncle’s stained glass firm. This studio, owned by Joshua Clarke, was also the artistic nursery for MacGonigal’s cousin Harry Clarke, who became Ireland’s most celebrated stained glass artist.
In 1917, MacGonigal’s political convictions led him to join Na Fianna Éireann, the nationalist youth organisation founded in 1909 by Constance Markievicz and Bulmer Hobson. Graduating to the Irish Republican Army, he took part in military activities that led to his arrest and imprisonment in Kilmainham Jail and Ballykinlar Camp, Co. Down.

After his release he attended evening classes at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art and soon won a scholarship for full time study. Like his contemporary, Seán Keating, MacGonigal was to play an influential role in the shaping of twentieth-century Irish art. He was Professor of Painting at the National College of Art from 1954–1969 and took over the Presidency of the Royal Hibernian Academy when Keating resigned in 1962.
Depicting an old man and his dog in an unspecified western landscape, Country Scene displays the influence of Paul Henry’s picturesque images of thatched cottages under benign cloud-filled skies.

Written by Riann Coulter


About the Artist

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 Clarkes stained-glass studio in North Frederick Street. From 1917 he was a member of Fianna Éireann, and after being interned firstly in Kilmainham Jail and later at Ballykinlar Camp, County Down, he took up evening art classes at the Dublin Metropolitan School. He won the Taylors Scholarship in 1924, and in the same year exhibited at the R.H.A. for the first time. After a trip to Holland in 1927 to study painting, he returned to Dublin to teach art at the R.H.A schools and as a relief teacher at the D.M.S.A. He was made a full member of the R.H.A. in 1933 and served at the Academys Keeper 1936-1939 and 1950-1961. In 1962 he was made President, an office he held until 1977. McGonigals choice of subject matter was influenced by Sean Keatings: early life in the west of Ireland. His work is now represented in all major collections in Ireland.

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