Signed and dated L. Perry, 1947 at bottom right Art Gallery collection pre-1974
Lilla Perry was born Lilla Minnie Bagwell at Marlfield, near Clonmel, the youngest daughter of Richard Bagwell, author of Ireland under the Tudors (1885) and Ireland under the Stuarts, (1909). Her privileged upbringing enabled her to travel to Italy in her youth, and possibly to study art there, although there is no record of any art education. As Lilla Bagwell, she showed her first landscapes at the WCSI in 1908 and annually until 1915, when she married Capt. John Perry from a neighbouring estate, Birdhill, Clonmel and began to exhibit under her married name.Perry’s work was accepted at the London Salon in 1909 and in 1911 and 1912 she showed with the Society for Women Artists, London. Her subject of choice was landscape, generally painted in watercolour. Over the years she showed nearly 100 watercolour paintings at the annual exhibitions of the WCSI, also exhibiting at the RHA, the Munster Fine Art Club (1933), and Ulster Academy of Arts.Lilla Perry’s family were prominent unionists and in 1923 part of her former family home, Marlfield, was destroyed in a republican arson attack, but despite that her paintings show a great love of the area. She painted Clonmel and its surroundings in all weathers, sometimes animated streetscapes, sometimes quiet, undisturbed country scenes, but unfailingly in a positive light. She outlived her husband and died at Marlfield, then home of her daughter Mary Lilla and Comdr. William Bagwell, in 1974.In this painting, Clonmel is presented like the archetypal Christmas card scenes invented by the Victorians. Time seems suspended, but the presence of a motor car reminds us that this one is actually more modern. The painting seems to have been done around the area of Irishtown looking down towards the spire of Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic church in the middle distance with the West Gate and the Main Guard beyond.