James Arthur O'Connor, Irish, 1792-1841
Title: The Mill, Ballinrobe
Date: c.1818
Medium: Oil on canvas
42 x 71 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1970
Object Number: NGI.4011
DescriptionThe Mill is one of a series of four paintings commissioned around 1818 by Courtney Kenny, owner of Bridge House in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. One painting shows the house, another the pleasure grounds, the third a panoramic view of the countryside at Lough Mask. This painting depicts the mill located at the edge of the River Robe, close by a wooden footbridge. On the left of the picture two men are pushing a punt out onto the river. On the far bank behind them are the pictoresque ruins of a Gothic church, its shadow visible on the river surface. In the centre of the composition, a church spire can be seen on the horizon.
The scene is remarkable for its mood of serenity and tranquillity. O'Connor achieves this by interpreting Ballinrobe less as a topographical view and more as an ideal place where time stand still. The absolute stillness of the water, the lack of movement in the tall trees silhouetted against the sky and the almost total lack of human activity, all combine to reinforce this notion.
This painting is a superb example of the artist's early technique. O'Connor is believed to have been largely self-taught, and his initial style is marked by a close attention to detail and precise brushwork. This is in contrast to his later paintings , which are more broadly painted and concerned with depicting the awesome and sublime aspects of nature.

(National Gallery of Ireland: Essential Guide, 2008)
ProvenanceBy descent to Mr Courtney Kenny; purchased, Mr C. Kenny, London, 1970
Exhibition HistoryIrish Art in the 19th Century, Cork, 1971

The Architecture of Ireland in Drawings & Paintings, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1975

James Arthur O'Connor, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, November - December 1985; The Ulster Museum, Belfast, February - March 1986; Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork, March - April 1986
Label TextThis quartet of views of Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, was commissioned by Courtney Kenny, owner of Bridge House outside the town. The pictures show in turn the mill, the house, the pleasure grounds, and a panoramic view of the adjacent countryside at Lough Mask. The series represents an idyll rather than a strict topographical study. A tranquil atmosphere pervades the views, from the ordered, manicured pleasure grounds to the untamed expanses around the lake. Human activity is minimal and understated. The meticulous detailing and finish are typical of O’Connor, who painted both topographical views and ideal landscapes.

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