© Estate of Paul Henry, IVARO Dublin, 2018
 
Paul Henry, Irish, 1876-1958
Title: Launching the Currach
Date: 1910-1911
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
41 x 60 cm
Signed: lower right: Paul Henry
Credit Line: Purchased, 1968
Object Number: NGI.1869
DescriptionA currach is a small rowing boat, traditionally used along the western seaboard, from Clare to Donegal. Constructed by stretching cowhide over a wickerwork frame, and made watertight through the application of pitch, it is light and strong, and can be used in both shallow waters and rough seas. As illustrated by Henry, one of the vessel’s advantages is that it can be pulled ashore and launched with relative ease. This picture is set on the island of Achill, County Mayo, which Henry and his wife Grace first visited
in 1910. Having spent a month there on that occasion they returned two years later, and regularly over the following seven years. It is likely that this picture was produced from memory, as some of the local residents encountered by Henry were disinclined, on superstitious grounds, to allow themselves to be painted or sketched. In many of his early, figurative paintings, Henry obscures or hides the faces of his characters, casting the figures as representatives of a western type. He also integrates them into the landscapes they inhabit by adopting the same broad, economical technique in describing them that he uses for the setting. Henry gradually distanced himself from subjects of this kind, relinquishing populated views in favour of pure landscapes characterised by bold mountainous terrain and expansive cloudy skies.

March 2016

ProvenanceProfessor R.M. Henry and by descent to Mrs Kathleen Henry; purchased, Mrs Kathleen Henry, 1968
Exhibition HistoryPaintings by Mrs. Frances Baker, Grace Henry, Paul Henry, Casimir Dunin-Markiewicz and George Russell (AE), Leinster Hall, Dublin, 16 - 21 October 1911

Paintings of Co. Mayo, Ireland (Synge's Country) by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Henry, Allied Artists' Association, London, till 17 February 1912

Exposition d'Art Irlandais, Musée d'Art Ancien, Brussels, 10 May - 8 June 1930

Works by Paul Henry from the Collection of Mrs. Kathleen Henry, CEMA and Northern Ireland tour, CEMA, November 1956

Paul Henry: Retrospective Exhibition, Ritchie Hendriks Gallery, Dublin; Museum and Art Gallery, Belfast, May - July 1957

Paul Henry 1876-1958: Retrospective Exhibition, Trinity College, Dublin; Ulster Museum, Belfast, October 1973 - January 1974

When Time Began to Rant and Rage: Twentieth Century Figurative Paintings from Ireland, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 16 October 1998 - 10 January 1999; The Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, 10 February - 1 May 1999; The Grey Art Gallery, New York, 25 May - 24 July 1999

Lines of Vision. Irish Writers at the National Gallery of Ireland, 8 October 2014 —12 April 2015
Label TextThis picture is set on the island of Achill, Co. Mayo, which Henry and his wife Grace first visited in 1910, and returned to regularly over the following seven years. It is likely that the scene was produced from memory, however, as some of the local residents encountered by Henry were disinclined, on superstitious grounds, to allow themselves to be painted or sketched. A currach is a rowing boat, traditionally used along the western seaboard. Made of cowhide and wickerwork, it is light and strong, and can be used in both shallow waters and rough seas.