James Arthur O'Connor (1792-1841)
O'Connor, one of Ireland's best-known and most popular landscape painters, was born in Dublin, probably in 1792, the son of a print seller and engraver. He first began exhibiting in Dublin in 1809 and in 1813, went to London but returned home after a short time because of financial difficulties. He eventually settled there in 1822 and began exhibiting at the Royal Academy and British Institution.
Though moderately successful, his later years were dogged with financial hardship and ill health and he died in straitened circumstances. His work exhibits a variety of styles, passing from the purely topographical, through the Picturesque, then into the brooding Romanticism of his later period, from c. 1830.
This view of Co. Wicklow, which dates from his Picturesque period, depicts an Ireland and Irish peasantry in a highly idealized manner; indeed, the scene could be set in some rustic Arcadia and not amongst the Wicklow hills.
The painting, with its classical overtones, has been composed in the manner of Claude, that is, darkish foreground, lighter middle distance, leading to blueish far distance. The work was painted near Kilcroney, some 1½ miles south-west of Bray. The hills are the Great Sugar Loaf (to the right) and Little Sugar Loaf (to the left), whilst the river meandering under the bridge is the Dargle.
Image: James Arthur O'Connor (1792-1841) Scene in Co. Wicklow. BELUM.U680. Click to enlarge.
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