Monday, July 28, 2014

Daniel Maclise

Madeline after prayer
oil on canvas
127 x 99.7 cm
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Daniel Maclise (1806-1870) was an Irish history, literary and portrait painter, and illustrator, who worked for most of his life in London, England. He was one of the most celebrated Irish painters of the nineteenth century. His luminous colours, pictorial brilliance and sense of history astounded the British art world and the British public. His handsome stature, kindly nature, and personal charm won him many friends among the writers and society figures of Victorian London. Albert, the Prince Consort, spent entire afternoons in Maclise's studio, and writers like Charles Dickens, Thomas Moore, and Francis Sylvester Mahony were enthusiastic supporters of his work.

He was born in Cork City, Ireland, as the son of a tanner or shoemaker, but formerly a Scottish Highlander soldier. After working in Newenham's Bank for two years, his passion for drawing led him to pursue a career in art which he studied at the Cork Society of Arts. His mature style developed during the 1840s under the influence of continental art. In 1835 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy and in 1840, a full Member. His vast painting of The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife (1854) hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. It portrays the marriage of the main Norman conqueror of Ireland "Strongbow" to the daughter of his Gaelic ally. The intense application which he gave to great historic works, and various circumstances connected with the commission, had a serious effect on his health. He began to shun the company in which he formerly delighted, his old buoyancy of spirits was gone, and when, in 1865, the presidency of the Royal Academy was offered to him he declined the honour. He died of acute pneumonia at his home in Chelsea.