11/15/20: Mary Swanzy

I found an artist I hadn’t heard of. I can’t believe it. She was even in the circle of people I’ve been studying for the past few years. I don’t know how I missed her!

I found her while I was researching Gertrude Jekyll. [love her name]. She painted this portrait of Jekyll. Fun fact: she is actually where Robert Louis Stevenson got the name for his title character. But I digress….

Mary Swanzy (1882-1978) is an Irish artist who hung out with Hugh Lane’s circle. She was pretty ahead of her time as far as abstraction goes. She was actually one of Ireland’s first abstract painters.

MARY SWANZY
“WOMAN WITH WHITE BONNET”
OIL ON CANVAS, SIGNED
IRISH, C. 1920

Her family was very wealthy, which was the only reason she could have even thought about succeeding as an artist. She took lessons from John Butler Yeats [William’s father]

Trees, Mary Swanzy
oil on canvas, signed
21 by 18in., 52.5 by 45cm.

As was the case with other female artists, she could earn money as a model. This was a great job, because while she was making money she got the best education she ever could have hoped for; a front row seat to observe the “masters” at work. She took full advantage of this opportunity.

Her first exhibition was in Dublin in 1905. She studied in Paris the same year, where she saw Gauguin, Matisse and Picasso’s works up close. She went back and exhibited in Dublin every year for the next five years.

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