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IRISH ARTISTS & ILLUSTRATION 1830-1930

Title: Blessing candles - exorcism of demons

Title of artwork:
Blessing candles - exorcism of demons
Artist:
Fitzgerald, William
Materials:
Paper (fiber material), Ink
Techniques:
Wood engraving
Engraver:
Bolton, T
Author:
Anon.
Title of Publication:
The talk of the road
Publisher:
Partridge and Co.
Publication place:
London
Publication date:
1876
Curator Comment:
The full title of this publication is ‘The talk of the road: showing how Irish people talk about Irish doings when they get a quiet place at the back of a ditch or under a hedge’. Written from a prejudiced protestant view-point, the text is a comparative discussion on the differences between those of the protestant religion (the landed class) and those of the Roman Catholic persuasion (peasant class) in nineteenth century Ireland. First issued in Dublin in 1854, this illustrated edition of 1876 was printed in London, Dublin and Edinburgh. The narrative reads as a series of encounters and is threaded with examples of local Hiberno-English vernacular and customs. The illustrations reflect the tone of publication.
Note on artwork:
In this clearly anti-Catholic visual polemic, Fitzgerald creates an image that represents for him, and the author, the superstitious nature of, and irrational beliefs and rituals of, the Catholic Church. The illustration, entitled ‘Blessing candles – exorcism of demons’, is a fantastical image of a chanting cleric, who is oblivious to his surroundings, with a gathering of Blake-esque writhing demons and ghouls before him. A young, and clearly frightened, child (the demons perhaps a manifestation of their manipulated imagination?) holds up a bundle of candles as an offering to be blessed. As in all of Fitzgerald’s illustrations he ably, and compellingly, portrays a wide range of theatrical characters and reactions.


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