Paul Henry, RHA (1876 - 1958)

Born in Belfast, Paul Henry was for much of the 20th century, one of the country’s most identifiable artists, with prints of his paintings of the west of Ireland popularised by railway companies in the 1920s and Bord Fáilte in the 1940s.

In 1898 he went to Paris studying under Jean-Paul Laurens, with Constance Gore-Booth a fellow student. During his stay in France he met his future wife Grace (née Mitchel) whom he married in 1903. Moving to London, he was commissioned as an illustrator for journals and worked as a book jacket designer.

In 1910 he first exhibited at Dublin’s RHA and from the next year onwards he made regular trips to Achill island, settling there in 1912, and then moving to Dublin in 1920. His early paintings of the west of Ireland typically included figures, although as his work matured the artist focused increasingly on capturing scenes of billowing cloud formations, monumental hillsides and the glimmering lakes of Connemara and Wicklow.