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IRISH ARTISTS & ILLUSTRATION 1830-1930

Title: The state in Ireland: Police patrol challenging a suspected person

Title of artwork:
The state in Ireland: Police patrol challenging a suspected person
Artist:
O'Kelly, Aloysius
Materials:
Paper (fiber material), Ink
Techniques:
Wood engraving
Author:
Anon.
Title of Publication:
Illustrated London News (Vol. LXXIX)
Publisher:
George C. Leighton
Publication place:
London
Publication date:
1881
Curator Comment:
Like a number of Irish artists in their early careers, Aloysius O’Kelly turned to illustration to provide an income and to increase his profile as an artist. Among the journals he provided drawings for were the Illustrated London News (ILN) and Pictorial World. O’Kelly’s illustrations for ILN, such as this example, are interesting in that they address the political and social unrest experienced in Ireland during the Land War of the early 1880s, which resulted in the mobilisation of peasant classes to assert their rights as tenants in the West of Ireland. O’Kelly’s work is noted for its authenticity in its observations of Irish life and its political sensibilities when viewed in the context of his English publishers.
Note on artwork:
‘The State of Ireland: Police patrol challenging a suspected person’ illustration is somewhat theatrical in its presentation. A faceless suspect, their back to the viewer, is silhouetted against the iridescent lamp of a police patrol. O’Kelly carefully characterises each of the protagonists, as the defenceless citizen faces the questioning stance of each officer. The police weapons clearly visible and one aimed at the suspect, or, uncomfortably, in the direction of the viewer. The rich tonal contrasts achieved by the engraver create an evocative and arresting image.
References:
DIB online, N. O'Sullivan, Aloysius O'Kelly: art, nation, empire (Dublin 2010).


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