2017-09-27-2018-05-21 --- 2018-05-21 09:36:07--18
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LOT :56
William Conor RHA PRUA OBE (1881-1968)
The Street Meeting
Oil on canvas, 50 x 40cm (19¾ x 15¾'')
Estimate EUR : €10,000.00 - €15,000.00
Auction Date : 27-09-2017


William Conor RHA PRUA OBE (1881-1968)
The Street Meeting
Oil on canvas, 50 x 40cm (19¾ x 15¾'')

Provenance: 'The Brian McRoberts Collection' exhibition and sale, The Bell Gallery, June 1982, Catalogue No.3, where purchased by UTV. Mr McRoberts is thought to have bought this from The Bell Gallery in the 1960s when they were in Alfred Street.

Exhibited: "The UTV Art Collection" Exhibitions including this work held at: Linen Hall Library, Belfast, January 1991; The Crawford Gallery, Cork, April / May 1994; Town Hall, Limavady, October 1994; Central Library, Londonderry, July 1995; Fermanagh County Musuem, September 1999;
'A Selection from the UTV Collection', RHA, April 1993; "William Conor: The Peoples' Painter, The Ulster Museum, November 1998 / April 1999


Literature: The UTV Art Collection RHA Catalogue 1993, illustrated p.9; 'UTV Art Collection' 2009, illustrated p.22.


William Conor Ǫ.is worthy of respect, not only as our senior painter, but as, in many ways, the most representative. Conor began exhibiting in 1911 and since then has followed a consistent course, drawing his material from his own place Ǫ. His chief virtue is a fundamental sincerity: he paints as he feels; if the emotion be powerful the work will correspond Ǫ. Stylistically he is no mans disciple, having forged his own idiom from his personal vision and experience. (Hewitt, "The Arts in Ulster,Painting and Sculpture",88-89)


Described asthe peoples painter,William Conor fittingly began his art engagement at the age of ten on the streets of his native city of Belfast.He had beendiscoveredby a friendly music teacher, Louis Mantell, who found him sketching on a wall as he waited for the end of a friends music lesson. (Theo Snoddy, "Dictionary of Irish Artists - Twentieth Century",p.75). He went on to train at the Government School of Design in 1894 and continued to sketch prolifically throughout his life. He carried his sketchbook in his pocket at all times and in 1923 Conor wrote that he was accustomedto note down any little happening which strikes me as interesting and significant.Within this range of sketching output, street scenes of Belfast predominate. Conor was equally comfortable in depicting single figures, two-person and three-person groups in his sketches, drawings and paintings. He also depicted larger groups and all his figure studies captured their subjects in activities of various types - playing, dancing, selling or skipping, for example, with a lively and gregarious air of enjoyment. He was a highly perceptive and sympathetic chronicler of the people of Belfast and has endured as the citys most popular fine art exponent.


It is interesting to note his early employment as a poster designer with David Allen & Sons, lithographers. He worked in this position for five years and it is certain to have influenced his ability to portray a scene powerfully within the confines of the page or canvas. He exhibited with the Belfast Art Society, the Royal Academy and the Royal Hibernian Academy. His representation at the latter was sustained and formidable, over 200 works during the period 1918-1967.


As a practitioner he has been credited with many positive attributes honesty, integrity, sincerity and clarity in his depictions of the people and places that surrounded him and in his portrayals of the scenes he encountered as he explored his habitual urban environs. His work is readily identifiable and relatively unique in its sustained engagement with a city and its people.

Writing about this work in 1982 Nelson Bell wrote :- Perhaps the highest point of Conors achievement in this collection is the oil painting entitled The Street Meeting. This an affectionate, delightfully animated work which displays the artists unique ability to capture the depts of a human soul in the facial expression of the three women gathered around their portable organ as they proclaim the word of god in song.


We thank Nelson Bell for his help in cataloguing this lot and Marianne OKane Boal whose previous writings on the artist formed the basis of this catalogue entry.


Hammer Price : €18,000.00
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