Artist Biographies

Charles Lamb RHA RUA 1893 - 1964

Charles Lamb was one of a group of Irish Artist’s who, during the 1920’s and 30’s found inspiration in the life and landscape of the West of Ireland. Born in Co Armagh in 1893, Charles Vincent Lamb was the eldest of seven children, who in 1913 had won a gold medal as best apprentice house painter of the year and in 1917 he won a scholarship to the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art where he studied for four years and came under the influence of Sean Keating. At this time, he became profoundly affected by the nationalist movement which dominated Dublin intellectual and artistic circles of the day. As such, he looked to the West of Ireland and to the people and traditions of the Gaeltacht, visiting Carraroe for the first time in 1921 and regularly in the years that followed. In these early years, Lamb had met Padraic O’Conaire from Connemara, who encouraged him to go West and paint the unspoilt landscape and life of the people, in the Carraroe area in particular, a remote Irish-speaking area, at that time. In 1919, Charles Lamb had four works selected for the Royal Hibernian Academy and he continued to exhibit there for the rest of his life. Annual one man shows in Dublin followed and in 1923 he was appointed an associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy, and by 1924 he was exhibiting at the Magee Gallery in Belfast. In 1926 and 1927, he toured Brittany, painting peasant life in a manner derived from his experience in the West of Ireland. The following year, he was back in the West of Ireland, travelling around in a horse-drawn caravan. An exhibition in Boston USA followed in 1928 and in 1929 and 1930 in New York. Until the mid 1930’s he continued to produce important figure studies, there after he concentrated on landscapes, being elected a full member of the RHA in 1938. Through the 1930’s, he exhibited work in Dublin, London and Brussels and as far afield as Los Angeles in 1932, at the Olympic Art Exhibition and in 1933, at the Chicago World Fair. Lamb had a house built of local stone in Carraroe in 1935, where he settled and started a Summer School, while continuing his summer exhibitions. He was also elected a member of the Royal Ulster Academy and in 1938, he exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. His work was included in the Contemporary Irish Painting exhibition to North America in 1950. As well as exhibiting at the Oireachtas exhibition in Dublin, he showed at the Munster Fine Art Club and was a member of the United Arts Club in Dublin. He continued to paint right up the end of his days and died in Carraroe in 1964. A number of summer exhibitions were held in the Carraroe studio in the years that followed and a memorial exhibition of his work was held at the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery in 1969. It is thought that this work ‘Carraroe, Connemara’, was exhibited in the 1969 exhibition in Dublin under the title ‘Western Scene’. His work is included in many and varied important collections, including the Crawford Gallery, Cork, the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, and the National Gallery of Ireland, together with municipal and university collections across Ireland.
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