Presented by the Haverty Trust
Eva Hamilton was born into the influential Hamilton family at Hamwood, Dunboyne, County Meath. Her family had artistic leanings; her great-great grandmother, Caroline Hamilton (1771 –1861) had been a talented amateur painter, her youngest sister Letitia was also an artist of note and her cousin was Rose Barton from Rochestown, County Tipperary, also a distinguished painter. Eva Hamilton attended Alexandra College, Dublin, and studied art at the DMSA and at the Slade School in London.She painted portraits and landscapes often reflecting the life of her social peers in genteel homes and gardens, and later travelled around the country to paint scenes of the west of Ireland. She and her sister Letitia painted together in Venice in the 1920s. According to The Studio, the paintings they produced there were ’deservedly admired’ (The Studio, March, 1924). The sisters moved to Dominick Street, in Dublin’s city centre following the death of their father but later moved again to Monasterevin and finally to Woodville House, Lucan where Eva died in 1960.Her Irish scenes were very popular, softer and more domestic in mood than the Mayo landscapes of Paul Henry, but showing a warm regard for the landscape and lifestyles of the people. She was selected by Hugh Lane for his seminal exhibition of Irish art at the Guildhall, London in 1904 and exhibited regularly at the RHA (1904–45), and at the WCSI, of which she was a committee-member. She was President of the Dublin Painter’s Society and was chosen for the Exhibition of Irish Art in Brussels in 1930.Eva Hamilton painted several Achill scenes, sometimes of the working and social life of the people and sometimes, like the more famous Paul Henry, focusing on the majestic landscape. Fair at Achill is a busy little genre scene with the people in their traditional clothes, working through a commercial ritual that had changed very little in over a century. Hamilton’s style of painting is very traditional, but the warmth of her feeling for the people shines through this little oil painting as she successfully captures the rapport between them. An old label on the back of the canvas says ‘Fair at Achill, price £25’, and the words ‘presented by ERTY, August, 1920’, and an initial which might be ‘m’5. The letters ‘erty’ clearly refer to the Haverty Trust, set up by Joseph Haverty to promote art collecting and to support Irish artists and the donors of this work. Another, undated oil painting, entitled Achill by Eva Hamilton is also in the collection.