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IRISH ARTISTS & ILLUSTRATION 1830-1930

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Throughout the British Isles and the continent, illustrated accounts of travel grew in popularity throughout the period from 1830 to 1930. Ireland was the subject of various types of travel writing published in the nineteenth century and many examples were illustrated with engravings after drawings by Irish artists such as Andrew Nichol and George Petrie. The illustrations were intended to complement the texts but also to be of interest in their own right. Certain places in the country, such as Killarney, the Giant’s Causeway, or the rope-bridge and cliffs at Carrick-a-rede were very frequently depicted, reflecting their popularity among sightseers. These images of ‘picturesque’ tourism publicised, encouraged and supported real tourist travel. Other authors, such as Samuel Carter Hall and Anna Maria Hall, published lengthy explorations of all aspects of Irish society and history.  Their three volumes of ‘Ireland: Its Scenery, Character etc…’ included 456 illustrations by different artists, including the English artist Thomas Creswick and Irish artists Daniel Maclise and Thomas Crofton Croker.

By the early 1900s innovative technologies and new approaches to illustration allowed for and encouraged illustration in colour. Clarissa Goff’s account of Florence and Tuscany is complemented by her husband Robert Goff’s fluid watercolours in a modernist style. F.J. Mathew’s descriptions of Ireland are paired with Francis S. Walker’s topographical views and characterful genre scenes. Both volumes appeared as part of the London publisher A. &. C Black’s ‘twenty shilling series’ of colour-illustrated books. Many editions of the series were dedicated to cities, countries or rivers, running to 92 volumes between 1901 and 1921. The illustrations – 70 or more in most volumes – were often reproduced from watercolours using the innovative three-colour process.
Illustrated travel accounts were also published in periodicals. In 1917, Wexford-born artist Myra K. Hughes journeyed to Palestine, and contributed a written and visual account of her travels to ‘The Studio: an illustrated magazine of fine and applied art’.  

The twentieth century saw a new wave of illustrated accounts of travel in Ireland, this time attempting to present an ‘authentic’ view of the country and its inhabitants. The creative partnership between J.M. Synge and Jack Yeats began in 1905 when they were commissioned by the ‘Manchester Guardian’ newspaper to visit the west of Ireland and to report on their experiences there. These reports and images informed subsequent collaborative illustrated accounts including The Aran Islands, first published in 1906. In the same vein, Joseph Campbell, poet, writer and illustrator published ‘Mearing stones: leaves from my note-book on a tramp in Donegal’ (1911), a literary and visual evocation of his travels through the north-west of Ireland.  



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