Dimensions: 55 x 67.50cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Presented by Miss Aileen Bodkin, daughter of Dr Thomas Bodkin, to Sligo County Library and Museum, 1963. In memory of Dr. Thomas Bodkin.
The painter and etcher Mary Duncan was born in England and educated at Bromley School of Art, the Slade School, London, and in Paris. She is believed to have come to Dublin c. 1910 where she befriended Estella Solomons and was introduced to the literary and artistic circle in which she moved. Duncan’s portrait of Solomons is in the collection of Trinity College Dublin and she also did lithographs of George Russell, James Stephens and Solomon’s husband, Seamus Oâ€™Sullivan.
Duncan and Solomons exhibited together at Mills’ Hall Merrion Row, Dublin, in October 1919, and again in 1935 when works by both artists were displayed at the Arlington Gallery London. In 1922 Duncan returned to England and opened a studio at Bushey, Hertfordshire, before moving to Cornwall in 1927. She continued to exhibit in Dublin, Edinburgh and London and from 1910-53 seventy-five of her paintings were displayed at the RHA.
This portrait, which depicts the writer and translator Stephen MacKenna (1872-1934), and his American wife Marie, was painted at their home 5 Seaview Terrace, Donnybrook, Dublin. MacKenna, whose celebrated translations of the works of Plotinus are still in print, was a nationalist and Gaelic enthusiast whom Duncan would have met through Solomons and O’Sullivan.
Written by Riann Coulter