In contrast to the rural landscapes for which he is best known (see lot 74), here McKelvey presents an interior in which the grandmother is warmed by a formal fireplace. Her sewing is lit by light cast from the right, bringing out blues and greens in her patterned squares of patchwork, in a studied V-shaped composition. Enveloped by the huge quilt that she is making, she minds a baby, watched intently by a girl and a small barefoot boy. Another quilt, and scraps of material, spill onto the boarded floor from a basket, beneath her sewing bag. Their comfortable clothes and good furniture suggest the parlour of a middle-class home, as opposed to a farmhouse (the latter portrayed with Patchwork by James Brenan RHA in 1891). (Claudia Kinmonth, Irish Rural Interiors in Art (Yale University Press, 2006) figs.107-108, pp.107-09).
Dr Claudia Kinmonth
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