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Paul Henry RHA (1876-1958)


oil on canvas

signed lower left

18 by 20in. (45.72 by 50.80cm)


Private collection;

Adam’s, 28 May 2003, lot 86;

Whence purchased by the present owner


‘Paintings by Mrs. Frances Baker, Grace Henry, Paul Henry, Casimir Dunin-Markiewicz and George

Russell (AE), Leinster Hall, Dublin, 16-21 October, 1911, catalogue no. 35 or 36


Kennedy, S.B.,

Paul Henry, Paintings Drawings Illustrations

, Yale University Press, New Haven &

London, 2007, catalogue no. 342, p.162 (illustrated)

In original Waddington frame.

The form of the signature, with dots between the two words of the artist’s name and after the word Henry,

signify that this composition must have been painted shortly after the artist arrived on Achill Island in

August 1911.The village of Keel, where in his autobiography,

An Irish Portrait

(1951), he tells us he settled, is

seen from the high ground to the north-west, the long and graceful sweep of Trawmore Strand dominating

the middle distance.The scene has been rendered with remarkable economy of means, there being only

moderate impasto, but a great sense of fluidity, in the handling of the paint. As is characteristic of Henry’s

painting at this time the brushwork is rigorously descriptive of form and structure and the use of subtle

blues and greys to emphasise the recession of the landscape is a foretaste of the strong Whistlerian

influence that would soon emerge in his painting.The use of upright brushstrokes, as seen in the near

foreground, is characteristic of other Henry pictures of this time.There is an almost identical, but smaller,

composition of the same title and period to this in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Nowadays the village of Keel

is larger, although not substantially so, so that the main thrust of the landscape can clearly be seen. Henry’s

excitement at his new-found surroundings is also evident in his rendering of the landscape.

Dr SB Kennedy

February 2013


70,000 (£42,700-£59,800 approx.)


SINCE 1783



Richard Staunton Cahill (1826-1904)


oil on canvas

signed and dated lower left; inscribed with

marking and numbered [50] upper left

24 by 36in. (60.96 by 91.44cm)


Tennants, North Yorkshire, 15 May 1992, lot 407;

Where purchased by the previous owner;

From whom acquired by the present owner

An accomplished figure painter in oil and watercolour,

Richard Staunton Cahill was born in County Clare.

Having trained at the Royal Hibernian Academy

School in 1850, he exhibited there from 1851 until

1900. Research shows he painted in Clare and Galway,

concentrating on genre subjects such as The Irish

Peasant Boy (1853), The Spinning Wheel (1879) and

An Impending Eviction (1888). He exhibited from the

early 1850s at London’s Roy l Academy, and when

living in London, at The Royal Society of British

Artists and the New Watercolour Society and

elsewhere in English galleries. His detailed,

sympathetic paintings form useful historical sources

for authentic furnishings and clothing.

Cahill’s group is gathered in an Irish cabin to listen to

news read from the newspaper. The post famine years

saw a huge increase in publication of provincial

newspapers, from 68 in 1850, to 127 by 1880. This

growth went hand in hand with the establishment of

National schools, improved rates f literacy in English,

and the expansion of the railways, facilitating

inexpensive distribution. Newspaper editors were often

highly politicised, encouraging the rise and spread of

nationalism through the printed word. People often

shared newspapers and the resulting debates had

previously been depicted by other artists. Initially John

Boyne’s The County Chronicle shows a paper being

read aloud in a pub (1806). Then famous Scots artist

David Wilkie produced The Village Politicians (1913),

popularised through engravings (and stylistically

influential here). Another lively Irish portrayal of the

subject was by Henry MacManus (c.1810-78) whose

oil Reading the Nation features the weekly paper ‘The

Nation’, which was overtly political. By the late 19th

century, artists were addressing political issues more

frequently through their paintings. Subsequent to

Cahill’s version of this subject, other artists included

similar imagery to draw attention to Ireland’s evolving

Nationalist movement. Most notable is Howard

Helmick’s Reading the News: Proclamation of the

Land League (1881, National Gallery of Ireland).

This setting suggests a small farmhouse, with its flagged

floor and comparatively well-dressed, well fed, comfortable

inhabitants. The men on the left are close to the open half

door, which allowed light yet restricted the movement of

animals and children. The neatly made form that they sit on,

bears Cahill’s distinctive signature and date. The young

mother on the right sits on a stake-legged stool beside her

treadle spinning wheel, an improved type introduced for flax

production, used predominantly in northern counties. Her

head is covered, indicating her married status, and the boy

listening attentively in the centre wears green, a colour

symbolic of Fenianism, as wearing green had been outlawed

by the ruling British in the late 17th century. Young boys

were traditionally dressed as girls, in skirts. There were

various reasons, including a superstition that if dressed as

girls they were less likely to be taken by the fairies, but also

following similar European aristocratic fashions, as well as

for reasons of practical hygiene. In the right corner is a red

painted chest, upon which rests a rush light holder, and a

plate propped up, as was customary, for display. The

significance of the prominently placed initials and the

drawing on the wall to the left is uncertain. However, 1850

was the year of The Reform Act, which increased the

electorate, and helped build a newly political nation. The

juxtaposing of the male figures, with the older men sitting

passively, the young man standing (with his green hat band),

and the child centrally placed representing the future,

suggests an active stance towards a nationalist future, which

by the time this was painted in 1871, had started to become a


The size and quality of the pr s nt work would suggest it

may have been painted for exhibition. While no record has

yet been found in exhibitors’ indexes for the present title,

Reading the News, an example by the artist shown at the

‘Irish Exhibition in London’ in 1888 entitled Thoughts of the

Future [catalogue no.99, £10] would be an equally fitting

name for the present work. Thoughts of the Future was lent

by the artist to the London exhibition.

Claudia Kinmonth MA(RCA) PhD

Moore Institute Visiting Research Fellow NUIG January,



C. Kinmonth Irish Rural Interiors in Art (Yale University

Press, 2006), figs. 85 & 130, pp.89-90.

B. Rooney ed., A time and a Place, Two centuries of Irish

Social Life (catalogue for Exhibition at the National Gallery

of Ireland, Oct 2006- Jan 2007), pp.128-131, figs 67-8.

Kevin O’Neill, ‘Reading Pictures: Reading Aloud in Rural

Irish Society’ & Andrew Kuhn ‘Painting Print: Reading in

the Irish Cabin’ in V. Krielkamp ed., Rural Ireland, The

Inside Story (catalogue for exhibition at McMullen Museum

of Art, Boston College), pp.67-80.


10,000 (£5,930-£7,410 approx.)