GORRY GALLERY Daniel Macdonald Pennings and Pencillings Cork 1843â€“1844
26. Snap-Apple Night [Pen and ink on paper] 25.7 x 37.2
GORRY GALLERY Requests the pleasure of your company at the private view and sale of
Daniel Macdonald Pennings and Pencillings Cork 1843–1844 On Thursday 28th March 2019 Wine reception at 6pm
exhibition: 28th March –13th April The exhibition can be viewed prior to the opening by appointment and also on Tuesday and Wednesday 26th and 27th March from 11.30am – 5.30pm and on the day of opening All measurements in this catalogue are in centimetres (height precedes width)
3. The Hebe off Roches Light (Detail) [Pen and ink with sepia wash on paper] 26 x 37
Daniel Macdonald (1820–1853) Catalogue by Niamh O’Sullivan, Professor Emerita of Visual Culture
he recent discovery of a cache of drawings and watercolours, a number executed aboard the yacht Hebe in Cove (dedicated to W. Puleston Esq), is of considerable interest.1 The works date to 1843–4, just prior to Macdonald’s departure from Cork, to London. Shortly after the move, An Irish Peasant Family Discovering the Blight of their Store (1847, National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin)—revealing the appalling conditions then pertaining in Ireland)—was exhibited in the British Institution. This was the first time the young Irish painter had exhibited at a London salon. And the work had the distinction of being the only Irish painting that directly confronted the Famine, that is until the recent discovery of a denouement, The Village Funeral [fig.a] (Crawford Art Gallery), showing a traumatised family digging their grave. These paintings are exceptionally important milestones, not only in Irish but international visual culture. The death of one million people, the emigration of another million, culminating in the depletion of the population of Ireland by one half, made the Famine the single worst demographic catastrophe of the nineteenth century. In response, Macdonald evolved an inimitable form of Realism.2 His paintings are without precedence, not only in the Irish or British canon, but French art then considered the most radical of all. In her final book, published posthumously in 2018, Linda Nochlin positioned Macdonald among the great French Realists, in effect calling for a significant re-ranking of Macdonald from the peripheral position he held (prior to his retrospective in 2016).3 Courbet’s later Burial at Ornans (1849–50), for example, may have had scale but, for impact, the real life terribilità that was the Great Hunger gave Macdonald’s Famine paintings the Realist edge. Macdonald’s father, James McDaniel (1788–1865), was a painter, caricaturist, teacher, scientist and musician, deeply involved with the thrumming cultural life of early nineteenth-century Cork. Amongst the intellectual glitterati, the ethnographers, philosophers, folklorists, antiquaries, artists, poets and classicists)— Thomas Crofton Croker, William Maginn, Daniel Maclise, Father
Fig.a The Village Funeral [Oil on canvas] 47.5 x 56. Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
Francis Sylvester Mahony, John Hogan, John Windele and George Boole)—James was a significant figure. And Daniel was their darling. McDaniel was a respected teacher, and taught his son. James was ambitious for his children: his prodigy, Daniel; Jane, also an artist; James Alexander, intrepid Wesleyan missionary; and Dr, Prof, Sir John Denis Macdonald kcb, frs, md, mrcs, Inspector-General of Royal Navy Hospitals and Fleets, renowned explorer and natural scientist. James had a grocery on Grand Parade in Cork. His wife, Catherine, a bustling fashion business on Patrick Street, selling the latest from Paris and London. But the Macdonalds, it transpired, were scions of the Scottish aristocracy. When Daniel was a boy, his father, then a McDaniel, discovered he was the 8th Baron Macdonald of Castleton, Isle of Skye, and so he reverted to the family name Macdonald, as did his children. James
5. Returning From Cork Fair [Pen, ink and wash on paper] 26 x 37. Signed and dated 1843
also had a claim to the important Annandale and Hartfell peerage, dormant since 1792. Given lineal complications, he remained a claimant rather than an heir. Nevertheless, there was prestige attached to the name, which became apparent when the family relocated to London in 1844. Daniel made his debut at the age of 13, less than twenty years later, he was dead. But in that short time he produced a number of works of striking originality and skill. By the age of 21, he was on the exhibition circuit in Cork. The following year, in 1842, he exhibited four works at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, and was on the managing committee of the Cork Art Union, where he exhibited eight works, including the important Sídhe Gaoithe/The Fairy Blast [fig.b] (National Folklore Collection, UCD), a painting remarkable for its knowledge of Irish folklore and indicative of his close friendship with Thomas Crofton Croker, the first to publish material on fairy legends and folk beliefs .4 Macdonald’s characters play music, dance, court and marry; they make poitín and get drunk; they go to school and Mass; they pray to God, and fear the fairies; they fight, they die, are waked and buried. They include the beautiful and winsome; the strutting and cowering; the ridiculous and brave; the cringing and devilmay-care; fools and lunatics; laborers, farmers and gentlemen; the military, priests and merchant princes; and, on more than one occasion, the devoted followers of Daniel O’Connell, the uncrowned King of All Ireland—in other words, everyday life in Cork in the 1840s. Above all, he tells a good story, knowing his subjects both generically and individually. Although not unaware of the rivalries of class and creed that characterized life in Cork in the early to mid-nineteenth century, there is no malice in his representations.
Working across the genres—history painting, portraiture, still life, landscape and genre painting—in each, Macdonald shows himself to have been an acute observer of everyday life. His focus was on rural Ireland and its people—not stereotyped or romanticized— exploiting the inherent capacity of each genre to yield rich social, cultural, political and economic detail. If audacity in theme and treatment is evident in Macdonald’s oils, a remarkable graphic facility characterises his works on paper. During the Napoleonic Wars, British fleets were harboured in Cork, and business boomed. The gentlemen of Cork built wide streets, new churches and splendid bridges across the Lee. More than 1,170 literary, philosophical and scientific societies thrived.5 Cork had two theatres and a circus for equestrian exhibitions, a number of libraries, a museum, a dramatic society, and even a school for poets. However, with the downturn in the early decades of the nineteenth century, trade collapsed. Unemployment rose, but so did the population. While brewing, distilling, shipbuilding and butter making continued to flourish, living conditions in the densely populated city deteriorated. Famines in 1817 and 1822, and an outbreak of cholera in 1832, were serious setbacks, and then came the calamitous Famine of the mid-century. Although there were only 12,000 Protestants, they dominated. Class and religious tensions were such that Cork’s premier artist, Daniel Maclise insisted on his Scottish and religious background to distinguish himself from his Catholic milieu, a disdain not evident in the work of Macdonald. It was in Cork that Thomas Crofton Croker’s Fairy Legends (1826), Francis Sylvester Mahony’s Reliques of Father Prout (1836), and Mr and Mrs Halls’ Ireland, its Scenery and Character (1841–43), for example, had
their origins. But patronage was non-existent. One by one, Croker, Hall, Maginn, Maclise and Mahony moved to London. Undoubtedly it was in Maclise’s footsteps that Macdonald traveled. Although considerably younger, their reputations were favorably compared. Their early experiences were almost identical. They came out of the same Cork cultural milieu, and both fitted easily in to London society, where Maclise extended the hand of friendship to the McDaniel/Macdonalds. In his diary, Maclise described McDaniel as a ‘gifted brother of the brush’—one of the few artists he identified by name.6 Tightly tribal, these Corkonians brought Ireland its history, geography, topography and character to the attention of the cultural world. Maginn founded Fraser’s Magazine in 1830. Abetted by Croker, Maclise and Mahony, its erudition and doggerel, scandal and satire proved a winning formula. Maclise’s Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters (a formula adapted by Macdonald to peasant culture) was especially popular. Macdaniel and son couldn’t wait to join them. Within a year of their move to London, members of the royal family and the aristocracy were sitting for Daniel. Queen Victoria acquired a drawing by him which she kept in a precious album. But for all his success, Macdonald never lost sight of his roots, continuing to work on his Irish subject pictures.
bbb Macdonald was one of the first Irish artists to engage with vernacular culture. His work was anchored in first hand as well as scholarly responses to Irish peasant beliefs in the supernatural. His Sídhe Gaoithe/The Fairy Blast (1841, National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin) explores notions of sinister beings and fearsome occurrences. Such lore was part of peasant consciousness and while it suggests a credulous people, it unfettered anxieties and provided opportunities for behavioral guidance. Such beliefs, according to Angela Bourke, marked ‘symbolic boundaries, which more widely facilitate the organization of knowledge and thought outside the culture of literacy’.7 Folklore
thus allowed people to speak obliquely of events, or conditions, or states of mind that might have been difficult to articulate by other means. Such lore was traditionally transmitted by oral narration; alternative expressions are rare, making Macdonald’s visual explorations all the more fascinating. Irish peasants believed in ‘the little people’; neither their diminutive size nor their euphemistic names were protection against their malevolence. The clergy attempted what Charles Townshend called ‘a theological pacification campaign’ to discredit ‘beliefs in magic, defiant celebrations of, and wild displays of quasi-pagan faith’, but the snuffing of superstition, whether by Anglo-Saxon Protestant folklorists, or the increasingly powerful Catholic clergy, lingered long into post-Famine Ireland.8 Joep Leerssen describes a ‘top-down civilizing offensive’, in which the Anglo-Irish elite rejuvenated itself ‘through an osmosis with the unspoilt, primitive energy and ebullience of native low culture’ (song and verse, folklore and Gaelic).9 In the quest for an authentic Gaelic past, the discovery of Irish folkloric material led to what Clare O’Halloran calls ‘an early identification of the perceived link between popular culture and national identity formation, and of the inexorable connection of both of these to antiquity as a kind of valorizing agent’.10 The antiquaries did important work in reclaiming Ireland’s heroic past and vernacular culture (although many were keen to distance themselves from the abhorrent Irish). The majority of folklorists were well-to-do Protestants. They were interested in the early history and culture of Ireland, developing a parallel interest in the beauty and wildness of the Irish landscape (as we see in the flowering of Irish landscape painting). Catholic antiquaries took a different tack, referencing early Christian and medieval learning prior to the Anglo-Norman invasion in the 12th century—a golden age of learning and culture. Each had a political subtext. Focusing on the vulgar ways of the lower orders provided justification for the ‘civilizing’ mission of the invader, while resurrecting the high culture of the Gael served to undermine that colonial usurpation. Croker’s early work, for example, shows the impulses of the ethnographer, but his views evolved, to the extent that by the 1840s he had embraced Daniel O’Connell’s campaign for the Repeal of the Act of Union. Antiquaries noted the subversive connections between ethnography, folklore and agrarian unrest. The Irish were considered inherently uncivilized, rebellious and violent. Macdonald’s Faction Fighter (1844, private collection) is the embodiment of peasant leadership and peasant agency—a startling image of rural violence unusual in Irish art history—and in sketch form, as we see here, he produced a number of related images.
Fig.b Sidhe Gaoithe, (1841) [oil on canvas] 89 x 115. National Folklore Collection, UCD
Rural fairs and patterns were marked by pitched battles, known as faction fights. Macdonald’s fighters harbour tales of bitter religious and class grievances: tithes extracted from poor Catholics to pay the elite Protestant clergy, high rents and low wages, provoking proto-nationalist responses in which Irish Catholic peasants attacked English Protestant landlords. The majority of the population (some 85 percent) was employed on the land. The land, however, was held by a tiny minority (some 10,000
25. Irish Jig-House [Pen and ink on paper] 25.8 x 37.2. Signed and dated 1843
landlords). The majority had but a scrap of land from which to feed large families (leading to some bitter inter-family violence in pre-Famine Ireland). Fights broke out for many reasons—political, territorial and personal—all of which kept young men prepared to serve, in due course, the business of ‘the nation’. Fighting had the psychological benefit of enabling men, colonially emasculated, to demonstrate their virility, and gave comfort to a disheartened people. Macdonald’s Fighter crystallized many of these tensions. Ultimately, O’Connell weaned the rural poor away from agrarian insurgency into non-violent politics, but it required adroit manoeuvring, the cut and thrust of which was explored by Macdonald during 1843—the intended Repeal Year. Despite the poverty, the joyful side of Irish life was ever evident. Festivals and fairs were celebrated with gusto (even if they ended in mayhem). And whatever the occasion, there were music and dancing and games. According to Croker, the lower orders were ‘immoderately attached’ to dancing.11 Given the prevalence of itinerant dancing masters, country people were adept. In a life of deprivation, dancing was an expression of vitality, ‘a cultural statement, the somatic and kinetic intelligence of which blended into a richly expressive vernacular art’, as Kevin Whelan describes it: …For the spectator, the attraction was the expressive tension between tradition and the individual talent; the dancer bound to the strictly prescribed music, could also innovate within and against it. When male and female danced together, there was also sexual theatre— expressed through the heavier ‘hit’ of the male dancer
(culminating in the ‘batter’, heavy rhythmic drumming with the full foot), counterpoised against the quicker buoyant step of the female performer.12 Not surprisingly, the Church took issue with the spontaneity of dancing as providing sexualized contact, in clerically unpoliceable places, fuelled by alcohol. And, of course, such occasions led to courtship, a theme to which Macdonald returned a number of times, as evident in this exhibition. Macdonald also did a number of sketches of hedge-schools. By the 1820s, there were over 10,000 ‘pay’ schools with some 500,000 pupils, in addition there were 9,000 hedge schools with some 400,000 pupils. That is, 40 per cent of children received some form of education prior to the Famine. By the early 1850s, over 50 per cent of the population was literate. Hedge-schoolmasters were itinerant poets and scholars, and erudite and gifted storytellers. Many authored rebellious ballads— ‘songs, treasonable, amatory, and laudatory’, as Croker called them.13 Although they came to epitomize Gaelic Ireland, actually they insisted on teaching English, believing it to be the language of social mobility, commerce and emigration. As Whelan put it, ‘they had a foot—and a tongue—in both worlds’.14 In the transition from Irish to English, hedge-school masters were a strong modernizing and intellectualizing force. All the more reason for the authorities to come down heavily on them. In many cases, it was they who wrote the threatening notices to landlords, and were responsible for the diffusion of seditious republican ideas.
For many, at this time, the army was the only possible source of income in Ireland, for others it was a matter of shame. When Ireland’s population was 32 per cent of the population of the UK, it provided 42 per cent of the British army. Enlisting may have been an escape from poverty, but at a time of growing national consciousness, it was also considered a form of treachery. For Macdonald, the army was an honorable way of life (his brother was a senior naval officer, then leading a career of military and medical brilliance overseas), but that did not prevent him from finding humour in the shenanigans of British army activity in Ireland. The word bugle comes from ‘buculus’, Latin for bullock (castrated bull). Bugles were used for Reveille, to relay instructions from officers to soldiers during battle, as well as various ceremonial and symbolic uses. Bugling was also a feature of recruitment. Recruiting units moved from town to town, accompanied by brewer’s drays with barrels of beer. On a number of occasions, Macdonald depicted members of the army band, who were sent out to drum up recruits, succumb to the joys of the alcohol intended for the gullible Irish. Poitín, was hard currency. It constituted an important part of the economy of the peasantry (some magistrates and landlords even turned a blind eye, so that the tenants could pay their rent). However, the national debt led the government to pursue revenue fraud (in defence of Parliament Whiskey, for which taxes were paid). Efforts to suppress illicit stills and circumvent the methods employed by peasants to outwit the authorities was a game of cat and mouse, and a running trope in Macdonald’s work.
From the coat of arms, likely the younger son of Sir Richard Puleston, 2nd Baronet of Emral in the County of Flint.The Hebe was owned by Lt. Col. Anthony William Corbet, the half-brother of the step-grandmother of Puleston. The Corbets were an old Norman family (Roger Corbet had accompanied William the Conqueror to England and was rewarded with lands and manors) who owned Sundorne, a fine eighteenth-century castle. The Baronetcy was created in 1813 for Richard Puleston. William Puleston, a keen yachtsman and steeplechaser, was a friend of Macdonald.
Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum; see Niamh O’Sullivan, In the Lion’s Den: Daniel Macdonald, Ireland and Empire (Hamden, 2016).
Linda Nochlin, Misère: The Visual Representation of Misery in the 19th Century (London, 2018).
In 1824, Croker published Researches in the South of Ireland: Illustrative of the Scenery, Architectural Remains, and the Manners and Superstitions of the Peasantry; Fairy Legends and Traditions (the first collection of oral legends ever assembled in the British Isles) in 1825; and, in 1844, The Keen of the South of Ireland as Illustrative of Irish Political and Domestic History, Manners, Music, and Superstitions.
Dolores Dooley, Equality in Community (Cork, 1996), 15; see also Peter Murray, ‘Art Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Cork’, in Patrick O’Flanagan and Cornelius G. Buttimer, eds., Cork History and Society (Dublin, 1993), 813–872; and Terry Eagleton, ‘Cork and the Carnivalesque’, in Crazy John and the Bishop: Essays in Irish Culture (Cork, 1998), 158–211. Daniel Maclise, Diary, Royal Academy Archive, 16.
Some eight million gallons were distilled in the 1830s—the equivalent of a gallon for every man, woman and child in the country. Known as ‘unchristened’ whiskey, poitín not only had medicinal and recreational uses, but typified anti-authoritarianism and contempt for law and order. The stereotypes of drunken paddies, reckless rebels and savage aggressors conflate in the poitín narrative. But in the 1830s, Father Mathew launched his temperance crusade. Initially Catholics suspected a Protestant proselytizing plot but, in 1841, Father Mathew announced a membership of a staggering 5.3 million.15 Even Daniel O’Connell took ‘the pledge’ (though he later wrangled a dispensation, ironically pleading ill health). Macdonald certainly milked the humor in that. Macdonald’s skill and wit and originality were recognized. He had a promising future ahead of him, but his life was cruelly cut short when he died of fever, aged 32. Following his death, his sister Jane took over his portrait practice. Irish artists with ambition had long gone to London. Notwithstanding British distaste for the Irish, Irish artists did well there, but by assimilation not differentiation. Macdonald was adept at insinuating nuanced narratives into the salons of Britain, making Irish subject matter palatable to audiences normally hostile to material of this nature. In this, he bucked the trend. In his subject pictures, some of which show him to have been one of the most audacious artists of his day, he succeeded in making the local epic, but he was also a witty observer of everyday life and national character. Niamh O’Sullivan, Professor Emerita of Visual Culture (National College of Art and Design)
Angela Bourke, ‘The Virtual Reality of Irish Fairy Legend’, Éire/ Ireland, Vol. 31, No.1–2 Spring/Summer 1996, 14; see also Angela Bourke, Voices Underfoot: Memory, Forgetting, and Oral Verbal Art (Hamden, 2016)
Charles Townshend, ‘The Making of Modern Irish Public Culture’, The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 61, No. 3, September 1989, 535–54.
Joep Leerssen, Remembrance and Imagination: Patterns in the Historical and Literary Representation of Ireland in the Nineteenth Century (Cork, 1996), 160. Clare O’Halloran, ‘Negotiating Progress and Degeneracy: Irish Antiquaries and the Discovery of the “Folk”, 1770–1844’, in Timothy Baycroft and David Hopkin, eds., Folklore and Nationalism in Europe During the Long Nineteenth Century (Leiden, 2012), 193–206, 201.
Croker, Researches, 280.
Kevin Whelan, ‘The Cultural Effects of the Famine’ in Joe Cleary and Clare Connolly, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture (Cambridge, 2005), 143.
Croker, Researches, 329.
Kevin Whelan, Field Day Review, 6, 2010, 14.
Sinéad Sturgeon, ‘The Politics of Poitín: Maria Edgeworth, William Carleton, and the Battle for the Spirit of Ireland’, Irish Studies Review, Vol.14, No. 4, 2006, 431–45, 440.
Cork: City, Harbour & River M
acdonald was Cork to his core. There are a number of delightful sailing sketches, including the Hebe off Roche’s Light [cat.no.3]. His interest in the leisures of Cork manifests itself in sketches of frisky red-coated riders of the South Union Hunt on horseback, or romping barefooted girls ‘striding’ a horse across the River Funcheon [cat. no.8]. The Macdonalds were a naval family, and many a nautical pun is to be found in the captions: Pretty girls ‘reef’ their skirts in the rain (revealing very shapely ankles indeed); Thade Shane and Nano Leahy ‘sport’ with intent (no doubt); not to mention a number of ‘fishing’ scenes, decidedly suggestive – gentle caricatures of the gentry and peasantry of Cork at play.
From childhood, Macdonald was steeped in the history and folklore of rural unrest in Ireland. He would have known the ballads of old, many of which were discovered by his father. Stories of rebels and outlaws – legendary and true – stirred his boyhood. But Returning from Cork Fair with a Sprig of Shillelagh and Shamrock so Green [cat.no.5] is of a more sinister hue. These brigands are dangerous and desperate. Less Whiteboys than bad boys, motivated less by seditious idealism than primal lawlessness. The man on the left, with the clenched fist, wields the traditional faction stick, upgraded to a clogh alpeen, weighted with iron or lead ferrules, for maximum impact.2
In Coming Down to Dinner [cat. no.7], he pokes fun at a social life he enjoyed himself. Dinner etiquette at house parties was finely tuned. Guests would process (here passing ribald commentary on the nude statuary) under the watchful eyes of house ancestors and flunkeys. His description of English parties where he would be required ‘to take an old dame with a queer structure of gauze and catgut on her head in to dinner’ is apposite here.1 The monocled and mischievous, the simpering and flirtatious, the bewildered and supercilious, would have been individually recognizable, including, no doubt, Puleston Esq. Vintage Macdonald humour. 1. Title Page [Pen and ink on paper] 26 x 37
2. Hebe, Very Wet Night Expected [Pen and ink with sepia wash on paper] 26 x 25.5
3. The Hebe off Roches Light [Pen and ink with sepia wash on paper] 26 x 37
4. Fishing in High Seas [Pen and ink on paper] 26 x 37. Signed and dated 1843
5. Returning From Cork Fair [Pen, ink and wash on paper] 26 x 37. Signed and dated 1843
6. Waterfall and Camping [Pen and ink with sepia wash on paper] 26 x 37
7. Coming Down to Dinner [Pen and ink with wash on paper] 30 x 41. Signed
8. Girls Striding a Horse Across the River Funcheon [Pen and ink on paper] 24 x 33. Signed and dated 1843
9. My Triumphant Return [Pen and ink on paper] 25 x 35
acdonald’s political sketches are both informative and iconoclastic. He graphically swiped at the high and mighty, and the corrupt and disreputable of Cork in the early 1840s. Dismissive of humbug and hog wash, contemptuous of self-importance and pomposity, he satirised Cork’s political and civic life with rapier wit. The captions are densely elaborated verso (punctuation and spelling quixotic!). Tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top, the accompanying texts make no mistake about his own Repeal sympathies: Through his editorship of The Cork Examiner, John Francis Maguire supported Daniel O’Connell. Loquitur Maguire: Time was when England’s toleration and mercy was exercised and to what purpose think ye? Why in secretly fomenting disturbance they publicly punished. Then sat the demon of Legal Murder, clothed in Judicial Scarlet, who while he doomed the innocent to death dared to curl the lip of derision and pun on the miseries of the falsely doomed. This was all done to furnish a pretext for the Union which was
accelerated by the doubly damned traitors who were titled and enriched by their country’s bloodshed voting our liberties into the hands of our natural enemies and at last impelled despair. Our immortal Grattan mournfully said ‘I who have rocked the cradle of my country’s freedom must now follow its hearse to the grave’… The ‘tremendous cheering in which the eloquent Gentleman was seen, (for he couldn’t be heard) to wave his arms and move his lips)’ relates to O’Connell’s Cork Demagogues Inflaming the Profanum Vulgas [cat.no.10]. The Westminster
10. O’Connell’s Cork Demagogues Inflaming the Profanum Vulgas (With inscription verso) [Pen and ink with sepia wash on paper] 26 x 37
Review reported that the ‘annals of parliamentary warfare contained no page more stained with the foulness of corruption and falsehood than that which relates the history of the general election in the year 1841’.3 The orator (possibly Daniel Callaghan) thanks the crowd for a cheer that ‘will be wafted on the disinterested wind to distant and sympathising lands’: The English profess that they pity your woes and will redress your grievances, they be damned – crocodile tears bedew their cheeks and diagonal looking villains are they. They attempt to raise obstacles in our way but as soon can a dam of reeds stop the swelling flood of a Nation’s mingled blood and tears as they gush in one united current of our woes – its bosom ruffled by the sighs of millions… its banks are the ashes of the murdered and its rocks their bones. The trees, the gibbets of 98, hang reflected in the brackish depths of agony beneath, and its onward course is thro’ a land blackened by invading violence and crime… when the last Sassenagh is stretched on the plain, then, and not ‘till then will Ireland stand ‘great glorious and free, first flower of the Earth, first gem of the Sea’. Although the leadership of the Repeal Association was exclusively male, women adored O’Connell, and batted for him. He, however, with exquisite sophistry, pronounced: ‘although we
are most happy in being cheered and honoured by their presence amongst us, still they are not considered to be present’.4 In 1841, Repealers Callaghan and Francis Stack Murphy were returned, defeating Tories, Colonel Chatterton and James Morris, who complained of intimidation. As bigotry envenomed hate, an elector (who had voted for Chatterton) was killed on the 8th July.5 The Cork Constitution reported: Every ‘enemy ‘was known and marked; and, as he quitted the booth, a chalk on his back commended him to ‘justice’ …The women were usually the first; the courageous men came after, and the unfortunate fellow was beat, and cut, and trampled... when Mr. Norwood’s skull was broken… one of the female followers of Murphy and Callaghan actually danced in the blood that lay red upon the ground. Following which, the demagogue expresses his gratitude to the finest ‘pisantry’ especially the women of Cork.
Superstition & Folklore
acdonald’s fairy imagery represents the visual confluence of the researches of his father, and friends, into the psyche of the peasantry. He loved the whimsicality of fairy lore, but was also deeply knowledgeable about it. Fairy belief and superstition were not to be lightly dismissed; at their core were beliefs in good and evil, this world and the next. While superstition speaks of primitivism, its narration was as much metaphorical as literal (although that too). Many fairy stories were morality tales. Belief in this otherworld helped people to apprehend what was inexplicable by rational means, or emotionally too painful to confront unmediated: storms, infant death, infertility, crop failure etc. It also allowed resentments and injustices to be vented. Such beliefs occupied a liminal space between religion and superstition, as exemplified by Saint John’s Eve in Ireland: Baal Fires and Gambols Thereat [cat.no.13]. Pre-Christian Baal fire worship evolved into the Feast of Saint John the Baptist when music and dancing were enjoyed.6 Gamboling, involving young men leaping through the flames, required skill and nerve; when the fire had burnt down girls leapt (for a speedy marriage); cattle was driven through the embers (for purification); ashes were scattered on fields to ensure a good harvest (and keep away blight); old women
circled the fire on their knees (to ward off disease); and the ashes were consumed (for curative purposes). The expressions of incredulity and admiration on the participants’ faces would suggest Macdonald was there to experience the thrill of it all. More sinister, were fairies. Fairies were both feared and respected. They were capricious and vicious. They spoilt milk and food. They abducted children and young women. And had many malevolent powers. From this netherworld came Leprechauns and clúracáin, the former wizened, bearded
11. The Fairy Pinch [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24.2 x 30.3. Signed and dated 1844
12. Curley Croneen Surprising the Cluricawn [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24 x 30.2. Signed and dated 1844
old men dressed in green or red, wearing buckled shoes and a pointed hat, the latter, not unlike leprechauns, known for their love of drinking. If you mistreated either, they would wreak havoc in your house and steal your wine. Any wine cellar thus haunted was doomed to bring its owner (read landlord) to ruin.7 In The Fairy Pinch [cat.no.11], a young man falls into a drunken stupor. Around him a fairy bacchanalia is in full swing. Fairies were known to pinch, push and bite people they do not like. This is unlikely to end well for this young man. The Curley Croneen [cat.no.12] caption tells us that ‘The superstitious think that the clúracán is a Fairy shoemaker who if sieged at a critical moment will give up a purse that shall never fail as to contents’—of course, once obtained, the money changes to dust. Fairies always win.
13. Saint John’s Eve [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24.3 x 30.5. Signed
Leprechauns were thought to be guardians of Ireland’s ancient buried treasure, with all that implied culturally and politically.
acdonald’s knowledge of vernacular culture throws up a gallery of politicians and pilgrims, dog executioners and ballad singers, nosy parkers and dandies—Cork’s antidote to Maclise’s illustrious literary characters, as it were. These characters are both generic, like the parish clerk, and specific, like Harry Badger. And they flit from one sketch or painting to another, and, in the case of Harry Badger, from father to son.8 Many of the characters in this exhibition appear in Public Characters (Cork) (1843, Crawford Art Gallery).
14. Raishure [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24 x 30. Signed and dated 1844
Harry Badger makes several appearances in Macdonald’s work. As the legend in Public Characters tells us, Harry was ‘a dust’ who suffered so much from boys baiting him that his friends provided him with a helmet, ‘studded with 2 shilling nails to save his cranium’. Poor Harry enjoyed ‘a remarkable indifference to the quality of his food’ and was tormented by many practical jokers who dropped mice in his pint or, as we see in Harry Badger of Cork Proceeding to decide a Wager in the Bush Tavern [cat.no.15], served him boiled leather breeches, dressed as tripe, which killed him.9 Macdonald’s notes on pronunciation and etymology are testament to his multilingual skills. Like his father, he had more than a passing knowledge of Irish. He had a particular interest in Boccaughs (from bacach “lame”). Boccaughs were representative of the high level of mendicancy in Ireland.10 Not to be confused with your common or garden beggar, the ‘travelling cripple of Ireland was expected to merit his quarters by something beyond an exposition of his distresses’.11 John Windele described them as ‘reliques of our old Irish society’.12 They were known for their orality and literacy. These bearers of tradition were considered honourable survivors of aristocratic Gaelic culture. Their counterculture confraternity had a school in Ballyvourney, Co Cork. On graduation, boccaughs were awarded a blackthorn stick embedded with brass nails. Identified by their slouched hats, they carried all their possessions on their bodies, in bags slung about their persons, where they stored their alms.
15. Harry Badger [Pen and ink on paper] 23.9 x 33. Signed and dated 1843
16. A Buccough Delivering a Love Message [Pen and ink with wash on paper] 25.7 x 37.4. Signed
17. The Morning Walkers [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24 x 30.5. Signed
18. Faith Honey [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 23.6 x 30.4
19. To the Tune of 17 Tumblers a Day [Pen and ink with sepia wash on paper] 25.8 x 37.4 Signed and dated 1843
The Boz of Cork T
he Boz of Cork (1844) [cat.no.20], Macdonald’s evocation of Charles Dickens, provides an insight into his own artistic interests and methods. Sketches by Boz: Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People by the then young Dickens, and illustrated by the artist, George Cruikshank (originally published in newspapers), came out in one volume in 1839. Macdonald evidently read the ‘sketches’ and saw the illustrations, basing, it would seem, his own ‘Pennings and pencillings’ (as this collection when compiled was called) on the Dickens model. Indeed, quips the artist, he has been told that he himself is ‘the very moral’ [spit] of the writer. Like the Dickens/Cruickshank ‘sketches’, Macdonald’s were based on real life. His Cork to their London. Dickens was friendly with Daniel Maclise, visited Ireland, and followed Irish political developments. He subscribed to the conventional view that adherence to Catholicism was the cause of the “lamentable spectacle of disease, dirt, rags, superstition and degradation” of the Irish.13 In linking pathology and popery, he deplored a church that grew rich at the expense of the poor, as exemplified by Miss Eringobraugh, versus the rationality inherent in Protestantism, as followed by her sister, Mrs Bull. But it was Dickens’s talent for humanising even those on the margins that best compares with Macdonald, as epitomized by his satirical self-portrait as Boz.
20. The Boz of Cork [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24 x 30.4 Signed and dated 1844
21. Portrait of a Man [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 25.8 x 37.3
22. Portrait of a Woman (With portraits verso) [Pen and ink with wash on paper] 25.8 x 37
enre painting—the painting of everyday life—continued to occupy the lowest rung in the hierarchy of genres in the mid-nineteenth century. Unusually, on a number of occasions, such as his Famine paintings, eviction scenes and images of peasant agency, Macdonald imbued his genre paintings with added significance, elevating them to visual and social statements of some import.
23. Blind-mans Buff [Pen and ink on paper] 25.7 x 37.2. Signed and dated 1843
Other images of the everyday life of Irish people, from all walks of life, fall into the standard genre categorisation: scenes of fishing and riding, fighting and praying, games and dancing. Nevertheless, these are enriched with fascinating ethnographic detail. Macdonald’s grasp of the cultural complexities of pre-Famine, and Famine Ireland shows that he was observant and knowledgeable about rural affairs, especially the challenging conditions in which the vast majority lived. Indeed, his understanding of the richness of that culture should not be underestimated. Like his father, Macdonald spoke Irish, and was deeply knowledgeable 24. Hedge School (With inscription verso) [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 23.7 x 30.5 about traditional Irish music. His Irish Signed and dated 1844 Jig-House [cat.no.25] is an exhilarating evocation of social life at the time. The polemical ballads and night-time tales peddled by hedge-schoolmasters stoked memories of injustices, recent and remote. The rather rough and ready looking hedge-schoolmaster here is more laid back than other masters images by Macdonald, but The Irish Hedge Verso #24
25. Irish Jig-House [Pen and ink on paper] 25.8 x 37.2. Signed and dated 1843
26. Snap-Apple Night [Pen and ink on paper] 25.7 x 37.2
School Spelling Constantinople [cat.no.24] (annotated by his father, James McDaniel, verso) is charming. Amusing, exuberant, whimsical or even dark, these sketches clearly demonstrate his empathy for the rural people of Ireland. Above all, images such as Blindman’s Buff [cat.no.23], Irish Jig-House, Snap-Apple Night [cat.
27. The Riding Party [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24 x 30.4. Signed and dated 1844
no.26] and The Day after the Fair [cat.no.32] demonstrate his impressive graphic skills. His crowd scenes are replete with detail, abound with energy and scintillate with wit, and the articulation of character and narrative is compelling. Boccaughs and schoolmasters, farmers and buglers, kitchen maids and horseriders, faction fighters and musicians—life in Ireland in the 1840s…
28. Between Two Brothers [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 25.8 x 37.2
29. The Governor [Pen and ink with sepia wash on paper] 25.6 x 37.3
30. Conversation (With ‘Brother’s Fitton’ drawing verso) [Pen and ink with sepia wash on paper] 25.7 x 37.2. Signed and dated 1843
31. The Parish Clerk [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24 x 30.2. Signed and dated 1844
32. The Day After the Fair [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 23.9 x 30.5. Signed and dated 1844
33. Take Now This Ring (Wring) Somnambula [Pen and ink with wash on paper] 25.7 x 37.2
34. Mr Walsh the Cork Philosopher (With portrait of a man verso) [Pen and ink on paper] 25.8 x 37.4 Signed and dated 1843
acdonald was a wickedly witty observer of life and character. From boyish wise-cracking, to sophisticated linguistic acrobatics, his sketches—whether of ‘pisantry’ or ‘gintry’—were spiced with literary, philosophical, political and folkloric allusions. Hares were raised, gauntlets thrown down and scores settled. Macdonald was up for it all. He invoked Swift and Goldsmith, Newman and Newton, Pusey and Wiseman, Chartists and Repealers. Macdonald also had remarkable technical facility. His sketches jump off the page.
35. The Bugler of the 88th (Connaught Rangers) [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24 x 30.4. Signed
36. Paddy McGertigan’s Dream [Pen and ink on paper] 25.6 x 37.4
His swipe at the eccentric natural philosopher (although if his critics are to be believed, Walsh was more poet than mathematician), Mr Walsh the Cork Philosopher [cat. no.34], is both amusing and intellectually informed. Here, Walsh, ‘mensurator of infinite space’ debunks ‘the Bosthoonery’ [sic] ‘of that dolt and idiot, Sir Isaac Newton’, no less. Trampling on various astronomical treatises by Newton, ‘Walsh Irelandus’ (as he called himself) points out the fallacies of Newton to the snobberati of Cork, male and female. Walsh denounced all and sundry: Newton and Euclid, the Royal Society of London, the Académie française... ‘The lads must adopt my theory... It will be a sad reverse for all our great professors to be compelled to become schoolboys in their grey years [and] to have recourse to Ireland for instruction’, he boasted. Notwithstanding Walsh’s ‘intense self-opinion’, British mathematicians and logicians, Augustus De Morgan and George Boole (first professor of mathematics at Queen’s College, Cork), considered his rantings and ravings worth recording. Poor Walsh died in the Cork workhouse during the Famine, having ‘lived a happy life, contemplating his own perfections’.14
In Kildoyx in Kinsale [cat.no.37], we see two officers of a dragoon regiment perform an outstanding act of bravery. When they shoved a bathing hut, containing two ladies out to sea, thinking that it was the attendant that rolled them to a proper depth, the swimmers stripped and jumped in, over their depth. The lads waited for the signal of distress, then swam to the rescue. Inducing the terrified girls hold on their manly hips, the leering gents swam ashore with the ahoy: ‘Hold on, and kick out ladies, or we’ll all be lost!!’ On reuniting the ladies with their friends, the young cads were showered with gratitude for their courage—‘from fact’.
37. Kildoyx in Kinsale (With inscription verso) [Pen and ink with watercolour on paper] 24 x 30.5. Signed and dated 1844
38. Tade Shane and Nano Leahy Sporting (With portrait of a woman verso) [Pen and ink on paper] 24.2 x 29.5. Signed and dated 1843
39. Con and Judy about to Swim the River [Pen and ink on paper] 25.7 x 36.2. Signed and dated 1843
40. Heavy Rain [Pen and ink with wash on paper] 25.7 x 37. Signed and dated 1843
41. Illustration of an Irish Bull [Pen and ink with wash on paper] 25.6 x 37.2 Signed Jane Masters Macdonald, the artistâ€™s sister (1824â€“1909)
42. Still-life of Crab, Fish and Vegetables (1843) [Oil on canvas] 71 x 91.5 Signed, dated and inscribed ‘Cork’ In original gilt frame, most likely of Cork manufacture. Provenance: Sotheby’s, London, 16th November 1988, lot 114. Exhibited: Cork At Union, 1843, no.58. Literature: Cork Examiner, 6 September 1843; Niamh O’Sullivan, In the Lion’s Den: Daniel Macdonald, Ireland and Empire (Quinnipiac University Press, 2016).
acdonald attracted high praise for his still life paintings of ‘faultless, startling fidelity’ (Cork Examiner, September 6, 1843). This large painting features two red herrings, a plaice, a crab, a head of a cabbage, a bunch of radishes, a pewter jug and a large earthenware crock, composed to demonstrate breadth of execution and strong handling. From such quotidian produce, the young Macdonald executed an ambitious work of realism. This fine painting by Macdonald is contemporaneous with his work on paper in this exhibition and we have included it to demonstrate his skill in the medium of oil paint.
Daniel Macdonald to Richard Dowden, January 1850, Cork City and County Archives, Richard Dowden Papers, ie ccca /u140. See P. D. O’Donnell, Irish Faction Fighters of the Nineteenth Century (Dublin, 1975); and Paul E.W. Roberts, ‘Caravats and the Shanavests: Whiteboyism and Faction Fighting in East Munster, 1802–11’, in Samuel Clarke and James S. Donnelly, Jr., eds. Irish Peasants, Violence and Political Unrest 1780–1914 (Dublin, 1983), 64–101. Westminster Review, Vol. 39, 1843, 114.
Freeman’s Journal, 22 December 1840.
Report of the Outrages and Intimidations at the Late Elections: With an Address to the Protestants of Ireland (Dublin 1841), 12.
See Croker, Fairy Legends; and Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland (London, 1888).
Nicholas O’Kearney, Transactions of the Ossianic Society, Vol. 2, 1854, 19.
James McDaniel portrait of Harry Badger, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Ser. 1, Vol. i, 1892, 62.
Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Ser. 1, Vol. i, 1892, 60–62; and W. C. C. ‘The Famous Harry Badger’, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Ser. 1, Vol. i, 60–62. See Niall Ó Ciosáin, Ireland in Official Print Culture, 1800–1850: A New Reading of the Poor Inquiry (Oxford, 2014), 91-104, 101.
Walter Scott, The Antiquary,  (Paris, 1836), 3.
‘Gougaune Barra’, Bolster’s Magazine, Vol 2, No 8, 1827, 336.
Household Words, Vol. 2, 1850, 194.
Augustus De Morgan, A Budget of Paradoxes (London, 1872), 154– 157, 155 & 157; see also The Philosophical Magazine (November, 1851); Donal Murphy, “George Boole and Walsh’s delusions”, bshm Bulletin: Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics , Vol. 31, No. 2, 2016, 123–127; Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Ser. 1, Vol. ii a, 1893, 143–144.
Acknowledgements We are grateful to the following for their kind assistance in the preparation of this exhibition: Christopher Ashe, Hannah Baker, Gillian Buckley, Ros Devitt, Michael Foley, Luke Gibbons, Peter Murray, Niamh O’Sullivan, Kevin Whelan
gorry gallery 20 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 +353 (0)1 679 5319 www.gorrygallery.ie forthcoming exhibition 18th–21st Century Irish Paintings 23rd May–8th June 2019 gallery opening times Monday–Friday 11.30am–5.30pm, and Saturday (during exhibitions only) 11.30am–2.30pm Catalogue design by Ros Woodham email@example.com Printing by Print Run Ltd 34
Daniel MacDonald Pennings and Pencillings Cork 1843-44