‘Irish Women ‘Modern’ Artists and Their Legacy’

By Dr Jane Humphries MA MPhil PhD

Portrait of a Young Woman, Oil on Canvas, Mainie Jellet, 1921, Image Courtesy of the Irish Museum of Modern Art

  • Six week course running from  February 22nd to March 29th 2018
  • 6pm to 8pm each Thursday evening
  • €100 (incl. €30 deposit due on booking) €60 for Docents, €90 for Friends


This course will look at the vibrant period in Art History known collectively as Modernism. Focusing on Irish Women Artists who were pioneers of the new avant-garde styles, and influential in the development of what is termed ‘Modern’. Many of these women have been, until recently, shamefully neglected art historically. These informal but visually stimulating lectures will seek to highlight their significant contribution to Modernism. By asking students to first ask what is meant by the term ‘Modern’ the lectures will then access the work of key artists who shaped Modernism in Ireland and abroad. Themes associated with movements such as Expressionism, Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionist shall be explored and how the legacy of these brave, innovative and independent women have continued to influence contemporary women artists, shall be addressed.

Please note: Adjustments may need to be made to the following during course delivery.

Week 1

Theme: What is Modernism? And why the need to focus on Irish women artists.

v    General introduction to course aims and objectives.

v    Overview of the key works and movements in European and International  Modernism. Focus on the key Irish and International men and women involved during: ‘Classic’ Modernism (1890-1939); ‘High’ Modernism (1940-1965) ‘Late’ Modernisms (1965 – the present day)

Week 2

Theme 1:  Classic Modernism 1890 – Arts and Crafts/Post-Impressionism, Whistler and Beyond

v    General Overview Economic, Political and Social Context

v  Sarah Purser, Hazel Lavery, Grace Henry, Katherine McCausland

Theme 2: An Tur Gloine (The Tower of Glass) and The Irish Cultural Revival

Beatrice Moss Elvery, Lady Glenavy, Evelyn Gleeson, Wilhemina Geddes, Anne Yeats, Lilly Yeats

Week 3 

Theme: Irish Women Modernists Home and Abroad: Focus on Cubism and Fauvism

v    General Overview Economic, Political and Social Context The Society of Dublin Painters 1920

v    Artists to be examined: Evie Hone, Mainie Jellet, Mary Swanzy,

Kitty Wilmer O’Brien, Norah McGuinness

Week 4

Theme 1: Irish Women Modernists: Overshadowed by their significant other:  Grace Henry And Margaret Clarke

v     General Overview Economic, Political and Social Context Irish Exhibition of Living Art 1943

Theme 2:   Gabriel Haynes (Sculptor), Evie Hone (Painter)

Week 5

Theme: Over Here: Over There: Irish ‘Modern’ Artists Abroad

v    Focus on Three Artists who made an impact abroad and are currently receiving new attention at ‘home’ in Ireland.

v    Arts and Crafts:  Phoebe Anne Traquir – Scotland

Surrealism: Leonora Carrington – Mexico

High Modernism (Architecture and Design) : Eileen Gray – France

Week 6

Theme: Legacy: The Post Modern Surrealists and Continuing Legacy of the Modern Women Pioneers

v    ‘The Irish Surrealists’ Alice Maher, Kathy Prendergast, Dorothy Cross, Rita


v    Contemporary Art: Case Study: Sarah Browne ‘Remembering Gray, 2013’

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