Artist Biographies

Harry Kernoff RHA 1900 - 1974

Harry Kernoff is one of the most important Irish artists of the 20th Century. Born to Jewish parents in London in 1900, his father was a cabinet maker who set up business in Dublin. Kernoff attended night classes at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, winning the Taylor Scholarship in 1923 and was influenced and encouraged by Sean Keating, Patrick Tuohy and Maurice MacGonigal. Kernoff was one of the few artists to depict Dublin and its people, from the 1920’s on, and he did this in his own brilliant and remarkable style. Not only did he depict the great and the good of Dublin, he frequently painted the ordinary working people, in their everyday lives. In 1926, he began his association with the Royal Hibernian Academy and, with the exception of 1930 and 1931, he exhibited each year at the RHA until 1974, from his home in Stamer Street, Dublin, where his studio was in the attic. He became involved with many of the theatre and literary figures of the day, exhibiting their portraits at his one man shows at 7 St. Stephens Green Dublin, alongside his iconic images of Dublin. His travels took him as far afield as Paris and indeed on to Russia and he exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. Elected a member of the RHA in 1935, he exhibited widely, including exhibitions at the Victor Waddington Galleries, Dublin in 1936 and 1937. He later exhibited at the Grafton Gallery and at the Oireachtas Exhibitions, at the Ritchie Hendriks Gallery, together with a show in 1947 in Castlebar, Co Mayo. He later exhibited in Switzerland and in Canada, having spent a period painting in Nova Scotia. In his studio, he had painted a generation of Dubliners and many of his portraits are in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland, including Sean O’Casey, Peig Sayers and Brendan Behan. His work is included in the Waterford Municipal Collection, the Crawford Gallery, Cork, Limerick City Gallery of Art, the Ulster Museum, NUI Galway, the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art and of course, in the National Gallery of Ireland, together with works in Irish embassies across the world and indeed also in Arus an Uachtarain. Harry Kernoff is without doubt, one of the most important Irish Artists of the 20th Century.
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