Artist Biographies

Seán Keating PRHA, HRA, HRSA 1889 - 1977

Born in Limerick, Seán Keating studied drawing at Limerick Technical School and won a scholarship in 1911 to the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, where he studied under Sir William Orpen. In 1914 he won the Taylor scholarship and went to visit the Aran Islands with his friend Harry Clarke. It was a turning point in his career as the islands and their inhabitants, were to become the subjects of so many of his paintings and drawings. In 1915 he succeeded in showing three of his paintings at the RHA and was elected an associate in 1919 and a full member in 1923. In 1919 he also began to teach at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. He was represented at the Royal Academy in 1924, continuing to exhibit there for the next thirty years and he represented Ireland at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. At home, Keating exhibited in the important exhibitions of his day, including the Victor Waddington Gallery in Dublin, the Hendriks Gallery, the Oireachtas, etc. and had a successful one-man show in the Ritchie Hendriks Gallery on St Stephen’s Green in December 1956. He resigned from the presidency of the RHA in 1962 and the following year a retrospective exhibition was held at the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, opened by President De Valera. As an artist and a teacher he always took a firm stand on the side of traditional painting and was outspoken in his rejection of the modern movement. Keating was a superb draughtsman, capable of important work, often in pastel & charcoal, striking and distinctive work, presenting powerful West of Ireland characters, with strong facial expressions & gestures, testament to his style and genius. His strong and thought-provoking work of life in the West of Ireland, was a subject that Keating cherished. Interested in symbolic themes, he frequently portrayed individual characters with strong lines and attention to detail. Much of his work is associated with the period of the foundation of the State and he is widely regarded as one of the most significant Irish artists of the 20th century.
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