Signed Ernest Hayes ARHA (The name Hayes and the date 1944 are inscribed in pencil on the painting’s stretcher) Donated by the Haverty Trust
Ernest Hayes was born in Terenure, Dublin in 1914 and educated at Terenure College and later at the DMSA where Dermod O’Brien PRHA became his friend and mentor. When only seventeen years old, his work was accepted into the RHA annual exhibition and Hayes continued to be a regular contributor until his death, becoming a member in 1945. His first solo exhibition was at Victor Waddington’s galleries in 1937, the catalogue for which includes one of his poems. His painting The Coliseum, based on studies of lions he made at Dublin Zoo, was shown at the Winter Exhibition at Burlington House, London in 1940.Hayes was an active member of the Dublin Sketching Club (serving as secretary from 1938–45, and president, 1946–56) and the WCSI. He married his first wife, Irma Verona Maguire (née Stranger-Jones), but her status as a divorcée in the Ireland of the late 1940s and 50s had a negative impact on his portrait practice, and the couple spent the years 1956–59 in London. Nursing her through her terminal illness from cancer also forced a reduction in his work output. Following her death in 1959, he married Hildegard von Hobe and the couple settled in County Wicklow, with frequent visits to Italy, France and Germany. Hayes avoided the pressure to paint ideological nationalist subjects or west of Ireland landscapes on the one hand and Modernism on the other, showing his independence by painting the farmlands and coastline of the south and east and portraits, which included paintings of HRH, the Duchess of Gloucester, (1958, Saint Botolph’s Hall, London), Dr. Vincent O’Brien, former teacher of the singers John McCormack and Margaret Burke Sheridan (private collections), and Baron Hermann von Lüninck, (collection of Raiffeisen Waren Zentrale, Rheinland, Germany). Hayes’s marine paintings, which acknowledge a debt to the artist Julius Olson, earned him particular mention at Aberystwyth in 1953. He declined an invitation to submit work to the 1950 Venice Biennale, and a year later was nominated to be one of the Judges for the Prix de Rome. His work was shown in solo exhibitions in Schloss Lembeck, Westphalia and at Bielefeld in 1972 and a posthumous retrospective was held at the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in 1992.Seascape was painted in 1944. His second wife Hildegard commented that her husband loved to paint the same stretch of coast under different climatic conditions. In this instance the sea is agitated, and Hayes captures its bustling energy effortlessly. Seascape reflects the immediate qualities of this stretch of water rather than the vastness of the ocean. As such it offers an excellent opportunity to admire his ability to paint the middle distance, which fellow marine painter, David Hone, cited as a particularly difficult aspect of this genre (Crookshank, Marshall and von Vedel, 1972, p. 35).