Box 8 depicts the Gallery’s most striking portraits, each portrait shows a model with a very strong presence and highlights the wide range of style and skill of the artists who painted them.
Iris Tree (1897-1968), was a poet, actress and painter, the second daughter of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and niece of the writer and caricaturist Max Beerbohm. As an artist's model, she was in demand and was sculpted by Jacob Epstein, painted by Augustus John, and photographed by Man Ray and Cecil Beaton. Among the Bloomsbury Group she sat for Duncan Grant and Roger Fry, as well as for Vanessa Bell. Tree was one of the exciting and eccentric guests who stayed with Augustus John and his wife Dorelia in their first home, Alderney Manor near Wimborne in Dorset.
This portrait conveys a sense of Tree's forceful character even though it was painted when she was still young and had not yet become the poet and actress she was destined to be. A sense of theatricality is evident in her pose with her hands placed jauntily on her hips projecting her body outwards and her eyes challenging the viewer. Her hairstyle was distinctive and apparently she was one of the first women in England to 'bob' her hair.
This young Breton girl is the subject of several portraits by O'Conor from his time in Pont-Aven France. The sitter wears traditional Breton dress but the 'ailes' of her headdress are untied and hanging down which indicate that she is in mourning. She also wears a heavy black shawl around her shoulders. That she has been bereaved is also evident from the melancholic, resigned expression on her face.
In the years after the emergence of the Irish Free State Seán Keating painted a series of images that advertised both his obvious skill and his belief in the ability of the Irish people to self-govern at every level. In 1925 the by then famous Tipperary team won the all Ireland hurling final at Croke Park in Dublin. It was a symbolic game in a stadium that held extraordinary political significance for the Irish people. Keating was always interested to paint emerging history and thus he made sure to be present for the final that day
Sarah Cecilia Harrison (1863 – 1941) was born in Co. Down. She trained at Slade Art School in London and spent some time in France painting in the artists’ colonies in Brittany and elsewhere. After moving to Dublin she earned herself a reputation as one of Ireland’s leading portraitists. Her work was meticulous and realistic. The artist Mary Swanzy described her as a “…careful, polished portrait painter”. She was a good friend of Hugh Lane, and worked closely with him in his attempt to establish a gallery of modern art in Dublin. She also compiled notes for the Gallery’s first catalogue in 1908. Harrison was the first woman to be elected a member of Dublin Corporation in 1912, spending much of her time working to improve the conditions of the poor and campaigning for women’s rights