Signed F.A. Ross. (Kerry) at bottom left Donated by the artist Art Gallery collection pre-1974
Ulster-born, Florence Agnes Ross grew up in her maternal Grandmother, Mrs Traill’s home on Orwell Road, Rathmines, Dublin, next door to her cousins, the Synges. She and John Millington Synge, spent time together drawing plants and wildlife in the grounds of Rathfarnham Castle, collaborating, in 1882, on a nature diary. Following her mother’s death in 1891 she lived with the Synges in Dun Laoghaire, and spent several summers with them in County Wicklow. It was Florence Ross and Elizabeth Synge who attended John Millington Synge’s graduation ceremony at Trinity College, Dublin. In Wicklow she ran a successful sketching club in the Glendassan Valley near Glendalough, but went to Tonga, in the Friendly Isles in 1895 to keep house for her brother who had become a doctor. From there she travelled to Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. Returning to Ireland in 1906, she lived mainly in Dublin and devoted herself to watercolour painting, becoming an energetic member of the WCSI, exhibiting with them annually (1927–1948). She painted in County Wicklow, but also travelled to the Blasket Islands and painted the King’s house where Synge had stayed, when he was writing about the island in 1905. She was a member of several artists’ groups, showed at the Aonach Tailteann Exhibition in 1932, and held solo shows in the Molesworth Hall. Her work was exhibited by the RHA, the Belfast Art Society and the Ulster Academy of Arts. Ross donated a watercolour to the Waterford Art Collection in 1941. It is possible that she donated The Passing Gleam of Sunlight to the South Tipperary Fine Art Society at the same time.This gleaming watercolour, painted in Dún Chaoin near Dingle, County Kerry, has all the elements of country heaven - a winding stream, a little bridge, a cluster of well-kept buildings, a tilled field and a road that leads to accessible hills in the background. What is magical about Ross’s interpretation of this landscape is the way in which she records the moment when a bit of elusive sunshine sharpens the colours and crisps up the outlines of the buildings and stone walls, before it disappears as quickly as it came. All of this is achieved using a minimum of brushwork, with paint spread evenly in loose washes, making the most of the contrast between light and shadow.