Signed S.H.P. Bequeathed, Dr. R.I. Best, former Director of the NLI to the FNCI, and thence to Clonmel Art Collection (1958).

Sarah Purser HRHA (1848–1943)
Oil on board, 29 x 21.2
Sarah Purser’s work can be found in all of the major Irish public museums, including the NGI; DCHGL; Highlanes; LCGA; Crawford Art Gallery; The Model; TCD.
John O’Grady, ‘A Collection of Works by Sarah H. Purser, H.R.H.A. in Adam’s, The Sarah Purser Sale, December, 2006, 2006; Mary Brennan-Holohan, A Portrait of Sarah Purser, Dublin, 1996
Disdain, ca 1894
No items found.
No items found.

Sarah Purser was one of the heroic figures in Irish art during her lifetime, not so much for her own successful art practice, as for her indefatigable efforts to create an infrastructure for contemporary artists to flourish in a generally inhospitable environment.Born into a prosperous family in Dungarvan, County Waterford and educated privately at home and in Switzerland, she studied art at the DMSA and at the Academie Julian in Paris. When her family lost their money she was able to support her mother through her busy portrait practice. Purser also painted character studies, usually based around a single figure, landscapes, interiors and still-life compositions and designed and executed her own stained-glass. Her pastel portrait of Maud Gonne, (1898, DCGHL) is probably the best interpretation of that formidable woman.Sarah Purser was known for her support for other artists. With Edward Martyn, she founded An Túr Gloine, (The Tower of Glass) in 1903 to promote and manage stained glass design and manufacture, thus helping to shape a discipline at which Irish artists flourished. She was a prime mover behind the permanent location of the Hugh Lane Gallery in Parnell Square in Dublin and founded the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland to help to secure artworks for various public collections.Disdain belongs to a body of character studies for which Purser was widely acclaimed. These paintings emphasized character or mood over portrait likeness, although the central figure is recognisable. The best-known example of this is Le Petit Dejeuner (NGI), one of Purser’s finest paintings. Disdain is one of three oil paintings and at least ten drawings in which the model, in various moods, was Mrs E. Moran of Henrietta Place and the Coombe in Dublin. Purser’s biographer described another of these, The Look, as deserving ‘the joint credit of a vividly extrovert model and a consummate interpreter of character and feeling,’ (O’Grady, 2006). In Disdain, the model appears to be very self-possessed and in control of her patterned surroundings. The painting was exhibited at the Sarah Purser Commemorative Weekend, Dungarvan Museum, County Waterford, Sept. 26–29, 1991.