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Details & Cataloguing

A Living Legacy: Irish Art from the Collection of Brian P. Burns

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London

Roderic O'Conor
1860 - 1940
SEASCAPE, ORANGE AND RED ROCKS
bears signature and date l.r.: R.O'Conor/ 1898; studio stamp atelier O'CONOR on the reverse
oil on board
25 by 35.5cm., 9¾ by 14in.
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Provenance

The artist's studio sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 7 February 1956;
Gorry Gallery, Dublin

Exhibited

Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, A Century of Irish Painting: Selections from the Brian P. Burns Collection, 3 March - 29 April 2007, illustrated p.85

Catalogue Note

In 1898 O’Conor revisited his old seaside haunt of Le Pouldu and then embarked on what would become his most cohesive and extensive body of work, a series of Breton seascapes that eventually comprised over 30 oil paintings plus several gouaches and drawings. Seascape, orange and red rocks is a fully finished statement, its dazzling bands of orange, white, turquoise and mauve seemingly in denial of the fact they were created 120 years ago. O'Conor's boldly exaggerated colours were totally without precedent amongst his English-speaking contemporaries, whilst amongst his French peers only the Nabi painters showed equivalent disregard for convention.

In creating these seascapes O’Conor drew inspiration from Claude Monet’s series of Belle-Île seascapes created in 1886. However, the Irishman's proto-fauve style owed its origins to Paul Gauguin’s flattening of pictorial space and his use of exotic colours in his 1889-91 renditions of the Breton coastline. O’Conor’s series continued into 1899 when he set off on his bicycle to explore the Finistère coastline, deliberately selecting motifs that held a romantic appeal on account of their remoteness, their ruggedness and their susceptibility to gales. After spending some time near the fishing port of St Guénolé, later in the summer he moved on to the island of Belle-Île. The resultant paintings, distinguished by their remarkably bold, intense colours and energetic handling of paint, constituted a creative outpouring that collectively reaffirmed O’Conor’s avant-garde credentials.

Jonathan Benington

A Living Legacy: Irish Art from the Collection of Brian P. Burns

|
London