Irish Women Artists and Modernism

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Girl in White In this episode of the DCLA podcast, Jessica Fahy explores the fascinating connection between Irish women artists and the advent of modernism in Ireland from the early 20th century to the 1970s. Jessica talks about what Marian Hartigan called "The Quiet Revolution" which was the introduction of modern art to Ireland, almost exclusively by women. Jessica discusses their influences and how they reimagined and interpreted the artists and movements that inspired them.

As well as travelling abroad to develop their art, these innovative and generous group of artists, including Mary Swanzy, Manie Jellett and Sarah Purser, encouraged and created exhibition space for their Irish contemporaries.

Recorded at DLR LexIcon on 9 April 2018, with thanks to Marian Keyes, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Libraries for making this recording available to us.

List of artistic works mentioned in this talk:

  • Sarah Purser by Mary Swanzy
  • Eva Gonzalez by Manet
  • Homage to Manet by William Orpen (1909)
  • Maud Gonne by Sarah Purser (1890) Hugh Lane Gallery
  • Maud Gonne by Sarah Purser (1898) Hugh Lane Gallery
  • The Sad Girl by Sarah Purser (1923) National Gallery of Ireland
  • Landscape with Red Gable by Mary Swanzy (1929) Hugh Lane Gallery 
  • Samoan Scene by Mary Swanzy (c. 1923) Crawford Gallery
  • A Clown by Candlelight by Mary Swanzy
  • Still Life Flowers by May Guinness
  • The Cathedral by May Guinness
  • Margaret Clark nee Crilly
  • Reflections, China and Japan by William Orpen (1902)The Hugh Lane Gallery
  • Decoration by Manie Jellett  (1923) The National Gallery
  • Madonna and Child by Manie Jellett (1925)
  • The Madonna of Eire by Manie Jellett 
  • The Four Green Fields by Evie Hone
  • The Girl in White by Grace Henry (1912) The Hugh Lane
  • The Rosary by Grace Henry (19) 
  • Spanish Shawl by Louis le Brocquy (1941) 
  • Friday Fair by Nano Reid
  • Secret Pool by Nano Reid
  • By the Seafront by Norah McGuinness
  • Waves by Ann Madden
  • The Sails at the Carroll Company by Gerda Frommel
  • Where Eagles fly by Gretta O'Brien, Crawford Gallery
  • The City by Greta O'Brien, Crawford Gallery


Jessica Fahy is a freelance art historian based in Dublin, Ireland. Jessica has been teaching and researching various areas of European art for over 10 years and is passionate about sharing her love for the subject in an engaging and interactive way.
She teaches at UCD Adult education and the National Gallery of Ireland.

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The Dublin: One City, One Book for 2020 is Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey, available electronically on our BorrowBox app and from your favourite bookseller.

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