Art Gallery collection pre-1974

Letitia Mary Hamilton RHA (1878 –1964)
Oil on board, 35 x 20
NGI; Ulster Museum; DCGHL; Crawford Art Gallery; Highlanes; Butler Gallery; The Model; LCGA; Waterford Municipal Art Collection
Hilary Pyle, ‘The Hamwood Ladies: Letitia and Eva Hamilton’, Irish Arts Review Yearbook XIII, 1997, pp 123–34.; Patricia Butler, Three Hundred Years of Irish Watercolours and Drawings, Dublin 1990.
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The younger sister of Eva, (see page?), Laetitia Hamilton was educated at Dublin’s Alexandra College, and at the DMSA where she was taught by William Orpen. She studied in Belgium and also attended the Slade School. From addresses in Dominick Street, Dublin, Sligo, Monasterevin and Castleknock, she sent pictures to the RA, London, the RHA, the WCSI, of which, like her sister Eva, she was a committee member, and to the Dublin Society of Painters of which she was a founder member with Paul and Grace Henry.She and Eva, visited Venice and held a joint exhibition of their Venetian paintings in Dublin in 1924 and Letitia went on to establish a studio there. Her Venetian paintings bring a real flavour of the light, balmy Adriatic, but she was just as dedicated to the very different landscape of the west of Ireland. Influenced by Paul Henry, she captures the sombre isolation of the west, but her work is more intimate than his. She was popular with collectors and had a sell-out solo show at the Dawson Gallery, Dublin in 1963 only a year before her death. Thomas MacGreevy, Director of the NGI, (1950–63), recalled that one day ‘in a huge gallery in Kensington Gardens, London, I came upon an Irish landscape by Letitia Hamilton and without glancing at my catalogue instinctively rejoiced in the feeling of Ireland and home.’ (Butler, p. 195). The painting is of the west end of St David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, Wales, viewed from the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace. It is a view that draws the eye to a notable architectural feature of the building, the row of arcading along the upper edge of the wall directly at the centre of the image. This is not usually associated with Gothic building in England but there are several examples of it in Ireland. There is no suggestion that Hamilton was knowledgeable about such features, but she had no doubts about what constituted a good composition. The building has been substantially restored since Hamilton painted it and it is more than likely that its picturesque qualities were enhanced for her by its ruinous state, which inevitably evokes thoughts of time passing and changing attitudes to religious practice and local cultures. A second painting, Leenane, Co. Galway, also in the collection, was once owned by Dr. Best who may have given both paintings in the 1940s.