2017-11-22-2018-12-19 --- 2018-12-19 02:06:06--18
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LOT :114
Frederick E. McWilliam HRUA RA (1909-1992)
Women of Belfast III
Bronze, 39cm high x 52.5cm wide x 24cm (15¼ x 20¾ x 9½'')
Estimate EUR : €20,000.00 - €30,000.00
Auction Date : 22-11-2017


Frederick E. McWilliam HRUA RA (1909-1992)
Women of Belfast III
Bronze, 39cm high x 52.5cm wide x 24cm (15¼ x 20¾ x 9½'')
Numbered 3 out of 5

Exhibited: 'Eye for an Eye' exhibition, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, UCC, Cork, November 2008 - March 2009; FE Mc William Women of Belfast Exhibition, Dawson Gallery, Dublin, October 1973, where it is thought this was purchased by the current owner, this exhibition travelled to The Waddington Galleries, London and the Mc Clelland Galleries, Belfast where it was catalogued as Women of Belfast 5; 'FE McWilliam Retrospective', the Arts Councils of Northern Ireland, 1981.


Literature: 'The Sculpture of F.E. McWilliam' by Denise Ferran and Valerie Holman 2012 catalogue raisonne, No.381.



The Women of Belfast series represents an attempt by the artist to address a specific event in Irish history, and relates to McWilliam's interest in humanity as a theme. The series was inspired by media images of the bombings of the Abercorn Restaurant in Belfast on a busy Saturday afternoon in March 1972. The latest in a series of death and destruction during the Troubles, this event caused nationwide revulsion as it was mainly women and children who were either killed or maimed, and particularly affected McWilliam. At the time the sculptor was working on the expressive potential of drapery, a fundamental idea in the history of art. Traditionally drapery is used to articulate the shape of the body underneath and to suggest particular emotion or ideas. In Women of Belfast this fundamental pictorial idea has been dislocated. The distorted forms of the women's clothing and their extended limbs work independently of each other to express the dehumanising effect of the violence. The extremity of movement and the unnatural distortions of the figures convey the force of the bomb blast, and their frozen nature encapsulates an extreme moment in history. The associated sketches retain a sense of emotional involvement which is absent in the bronzes. This demonstrates the fact that for McWilliam sculpture required the resolution of a pictorial or conceptual problem whereas drawing was a more spontaneous activity. Women of Belfast was another incarnation of McWilliam's interest and exploration of the human form throughout his career, yet with a personal and historic connection. George McClelland, by exhibiting the series in his gallery in 1973, played a vital role in giving McWilliam an opportunity to comment on the political situation at a crucial moment in Northern Irish history.


Writing in the McClelland exhibition catalogue F.E. Mc William said :-


I left Ireland when I was 18,and although I seldom return, what happens there concerns me closely, not just because most of my relatives and many of my friends are there, but because my early roots remain unbroken especially the roots of memory. I can recall clearly what happened in my home town during the former troubles, this left me with a lasting awareness and hatred of intolerance and religious bigotry.


These sculptures are concerned with violence, with one particular aspect, bomb-blast the women as victims of mans stupidity. I did not choose the subject consciously, it happened I suppose, because the situation in Ulster is inescapable, even at a safe remove, sometimes that is always nagging at the back of ones mind (July 1973)


We would like to thank Roisin Kennedy and Denise Ferran, whose research and writings on the artist formed the basis of this catalogue entry.



Hammer Price : €35,000.00
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