Irish Artist Directory
Frederick E.

Frederick E. McWilliam HRUA RA (Irish Artist Directory)

Full Name: Frederick E. McWilliam HRUA RA

Lived: 1909 - 1992

Categories: Sculpture, Drawings, Surrealism

Artist Biography

Born in Banbridge, Co. Down, McWilliam studied at Belfast College of Art for two years and then at the Slade School of Fine Art in London where he studied under Henry Tonks and Randolph Schwabe. His intentions of becoming a painter had been altered when he met Henry Moore at Slade and decided to focus instead on sculpture.

McWilliam held a studio at Port d’Orléans in Paris for a year before returning to England. On a return trip to the French capital with his wife, Beth, he visited the studio of long established modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi. In 1936 McWilliam attended the International Surrealist Exhibition at the new Burlington Galleries in London, and in 1938 he exhibited with the British Surrealist Group. His first solo exhibition was at the London Gallery in the following year, where he noted that his Surrealist sculptures were ‘rather bare-toothed in conception but very beautiful in execution.’

McWilliam’s work spans sculptural mediums such as wood, bronze, lignum vitae and aluminium. His sculptures and drawings have been exhibited widely in Ireland and the UK, including the Ulster Museum (Belfast), Hannover Gallery (London), the Douglas Hyde Gallery (Dublin) and the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery (Cork). His first American exhibition was held at the Felix Landau Gallery (Los Angeles) in 1963. His works have been purchased by institutions such as the Tate Gallery who hosted a retrospective of his work in 1989, the National Portrait Gallery, London and the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden).

McWilliam was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Literature by Queens University in 1964, and in the same year he was described by Roland Penrose as ‘an inventor of styles.’ In 1971 he won the Oireachtas gold medal for sculpture and was appointed a Fellow of University College London. 

In 1989 McWilliam was appointed a Senior Royal Academician, and the Irish Times said that his work was ‘unmistakably his own, craftsman-like, humorous, imaginative, with a playful, poetic, slightly capricious element that sets it apart.’ 

In 1992, his family donated the contents of his studio to Banbridge District Council and in 2008 the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio opened just outside Banbridge, showing a collection of the sculptor's work as well as significant contemporary exhibitions. 

F.E. McWilliam's work featured in Adam's loan exhibition 'Ulster Artists' (2010). Please click here for a link to the catalogue.

It also featured in 'A Celebration of Irish Art and Modernism' (2011). Please click here for a link to the catalogue.

Frederick E. McWilliam Art Previously On Sale at Adam’s Auctioneers

FREDERICK E. MCWILLIAM RA (1909-1992) Patriarch (1953) Iron cement over steel armature, 243cms (9...

Hammer Price €58,000.00

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Frederick E. McWilliam HRUA RA (1909-1992) Women of Belfast III Bronze, 39cm high x 52.5cm wide x...

Hammer Price €35,000.00

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Frederick E. McWilliam HRUA RA (1909-1992) Women of Belfast III Bronze, 39cm high x 52.5cm wide x...

Hammer Price €35,000.00

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Frederick E. McWilliam HRUA RA (1909-1992) Woman of Belfast II, 1972 Bronze, 57 x 74 x 28cm (22½...

Hammer Price €30,000.00

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Frederick E. McWilliam HRUA RA (1909-1992) Woman of Belfast No.7 (1972) Bronze, 32.5cm high x 30c...

Hammer Price €28,000.00

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