2017-09-27-2018-05-22 --- 2018-05-22 05:17:48--18
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LOT :7
George Campbell RHA (1917-1979)
Dan O'Neill as Clown (1973)
Oil on board, 58 x 48cm (22¾ x 19'')
Estimate EUR : €4,000.00 - €6,000.00
Auction Date : 27-09-2017


George Campbell RHA (1917-1979)
Dan O'Neill as Clown (1973)
Oil on board, 58 x 48cm (22¾ x 19'')
Also with letter of authentication from the artist's wife, Madge, to UTV, dated 1993

Provenance: UTV Art Collection

Exhibited: "Friends and Acquaintances: George Campbell Exhibition", Tom Caldwell Galleries, Belfast, April 1975. Cat No 41. "Friends and Acquaintances: George Campbell Exhibition", Tom Caldwell Galleries, Dublin, Oct 1975, Cat No 23;
"The UTV Art Collection" Exhibitions including this work held at:
Monaghan County Museum, September 1993; Crawford Gallery, Cork, April / May 1994; City Hall, Limerick, September 1994, Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, May / June 1996; Monaghan County Museum, March 1997; Burnavon Art Centre, Cookstown, October 2001; O'Rahilly Building, UCC Cork, March 2002; Letterkenny Arts Centre, Jan 2003; Waterfront Hall, April 2003; The Naughton Gallery; Queens University, Belfast, January / February 2006;
"40 Years of Ulster Art", The Waterfront Hall, November / December 1999.


Literature: 'UTV Art Collection' 'RHA Catalogue 1993', illustrated p.21; 'UTV Art Collection', illustrated p.9.

In 1975 George Campbell held two exhibitions on the theme, Friends & Acquaintances 1944-1974 in Tom Caldwells gallery in Belfast and Dublin. The exhibitions were a tribute to friends who had recently died and those he had encountered when he lived in London, Spain and Ireland. The paintings depicted friends standing alone disguised as clowns. Campbells interest in the subject of clowns first developed in 1961 after becoming friends with Nicolai Poliakoff (1900-1974), famously known as Coco the Clown. In the early 1970s, Campbell became fascinated by the mime artist, Marcel Marceaus art of silence, which led Campbell to embark on a series of a single standing figures evoking a universal message. The Clown figures in the exhibitions at Tom Caldwells galleries are imbued with a feeling of melancholia.

In 1943, Campbell met Daniel ONeill and a year later in 1944 they held their first joint exhibition at the Mol Gallery. Affected by the Belfast Blitz, their paintings in the exhibition were dark in mood and colour expressing the desolation and disorientation of the traumatic experience. After the War, Campbell and Gerard Dillon often stayed with ONeill in Conlig, Co. Down and frequently went on sketching trips around the area. Under contract to Victor Waddington from 1945, ONeill and Campbell exhibited together in Limerick, Dublin, America, London, Scotland and Wales until Waddington closed his gallery in the late 1950s.

Dan ONeill as clown was executed as a tribute to the artist. Known as Dan to his friends, ONeill was a tall and handsome man whose painting style was characteristically romantic. Here, Campbell dispenses with the clown archetype of a white mask, seeking instead to reveal Dans distinctive qualities; tall stature, strong face and black wavy hair. The clowns sideward glance is intent on something or someone outside the canvas. The viewer can only speculate at ONeills gaze outside picture plane. It may be related to what was occurring in ONeills life at this time. Although ONeill had exhibited abroad and in Dublin, he had not exhibited in Belfast for eighteen years. In the early 1970s ONeill struggled with alcohol dependency, and rumours circulated about his painting abilities at the time of his return to Belfast. The public were surprised at his new style but responded positively. ONeill, however, would not have reacted well to how some art critics viewed his new work. One critic remarked, In a rather disjointed exhibition the main impression is of the artist jotting down ideas rather than developing a coherent theme or themes that create a core for his artistic objective. (Sunday Independent, 23/5/71, pg,12). In 1971, Campbell was also receiving negative comment from the press, and perhaps in this work, Campbells intention is to focus on ONeills strength of personality during a time when others questioned his creativity. In a letter to a friend in May, 1971 ONeill stated that the success of his show had laid to rest the speculation that he was finished as a painter. The clowns long neck may be a reference to the Italian painter, Amedeo Modigliani, who Campbell claimed had similarities with ONeills paintings.

Karen Reihill
August, 2017


Hammer Price : €6,200.00
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