Margaret Clarke exhibition at FE McWilliam Gallery in Banbridge

A portrait of Ann Clarke, the artist’s daughter, later Mrs Bourke, by Margaret Clarke, on show at FE McWilliam Gallery & Studio, Banbridge from Saturday

KNOWN for her strong and distinctive style, Co Down artist Margaret Clarke was in high demand as a portrait painter in the early 20th century and depicted many high-profile figures including Éamon de Valera.

Northern audiences will get a chance to view her collection of paintings for the very first time in a major cross-border collaboration between the FE McWilliam Gallery & Studio, Banbridge, and the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.

Born in Newry in 1884, Clarke worked her way up from night classes at the local technical college to winning a scholarship in 1907 to study at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art where she was a favourite pupil of celebrated painter William Orpen.

Margaret Clarke: An Independent Spirit and accompanying illustrated catalogue, will also explore the challenges Clarke faced as an artist and how she negotiated being in the artistic shadow of her famous husband, the renowned stained glass artist, Harry Clarke.

Showcasing the development of Clarke's style, from her arrival in Dublin to the period following the early death of her husband in 1931, this new exhibition includes paintings, drawings, sketchbooks and archival material relating to her career including her time as a founding member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art.

Margaret Clarke died in 1961, and is buried in the Redford cemetery, Greystones, Co Wicklow. She is commemorated with a blue plaque at her birthplace in Newry.

Among the works in the exhibition are Harry Clarke on Inis Oírr, 1914 (Private Collection); Miserere, 1926 (Private Collection); The Wife /The Haircut c.1926/7 (Irish News Collection, Belfast); (Newry & Mourne Museum Collection); Bathtime at the Crèche, c.1925 (National Gallery of Ireland) and Mary Magdalen, 1927 (Private Collection).

:: Margaret Clarke: An Independent Spirit runs at the FE McWilliam Gallery from September 16 to November 18.

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