The Gathering by Maurice MacGonigal PRHA (1900 1979)

Date: N.D.
Dimensions: 59.5 × 77cm
Medium: Oils
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


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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