Signed E O’Connor Art Gallery collection pre-1974

Edward O’Connor (1898–1955)
Watercolour on paper, 54.5 x 39.8
Waterford Municipal Art Collection.
Theo Snoddy, Dictionary of Irish Artists, 20th Century, 2nd ed., 2002, p. 470; Peter Jordan, Waterford Municipal Art Collection, 2006, Cat. nos. 208, 209; Abbey Galleries, Edward O’Connor, cat. Clonmel, 1946
West Gate, Clonmel, ca 1945
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Edward O’Connor, the son of a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, was born in Carrignavar, County Cork. He became a primary school teacher and taught at Lisgoold N.S. near Fermoy before moving to Lisronagh N.S., near Clonmel, where he remained for the rest of his working life. O’Connor was a self-taught artist, at a time in Ireland when there was little support for artists outside of the cities with art colleges.Perhaps that is why O’Connor became an active, founder member of the South Tipperary Fine Art Club in Clonmel. He showed his watercolours, including one of Ferrybank Church, at the Waterford Exhibition for ten years (1943–1953), the Munster Fine Art Exhibitions (1940–1951 and 1953–1954), the WCSI (1951–55), and at the RHA in 1939. His subjects included views of Achill, Connemara, the Curragh in County Kildare, Clonmel and the rivers Suir and Nore. When he was given an opportunity to show a body of his work at the Abbey galleries, Clonmel, in 1946, his twenty-six watercolour paintings were supplemented with a small exhibition of oils by artists that included Jack. B. Yeats. The distinguished art historian, Francoise Henri, (founder of the Art History department in UCD, 1965) formally opened the show.In this painting the West Gate in Clonmel is bathed in the glow of the evening sun, which draws out the warmth of the sandstone walls. A horse drawn milk-cart is heading east into O’Connell Street, while another approaches from the other side and a parked motor car is visible facing the Main Guard in the distance. It is a peaceful scene, with a calming balance between the architectural elements, the movement on the street and the sky above. O’Connor’s mastery of perspective is clear, not just from the diminishing scale of the buildings in the distance but in the reduced clarity of definition and colour in which he presents them. A great many self-taught and amateur artists used the medium of watercolour, largely because it was less expensive than oil paint and offered more immediate results but there is nothing amateurish about this view of Clonmel as it must have been in the 1940s.