Artists in the Collection

Dermod O'Brien

Born 1865, Foynes, Limerick, Ireland
Died 1945, Dublin, Ireland

Dermod O’Brien was born at Mount Trenchard, Co. Limerick in 1865. He was the eldest son of Edward O’Brien, landowner of Cahirmoyle, Co. Limerick and Mary Spring Rice, and grandson of the Young Ireland leader, William Smith O’Brien. Both of his parents were amateur artists.
He was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1886, he first visited Paris ‘studying pictures’ in the Louvre, and the next year, while in Rome, he decided to make painting his profession, and joined the Antwerp Academy to work under Verlat. He was deeply attracted to Rembrandt, whose influence shoes at an early stage.
In 1891, he moved to the Académie Julien in Paris, where he first met William Rothenstein, and two years later he went to the Slade.
He painted romantic subject pictures and portraits while in London, and was an admirer of Steer and Rothenstein. He went to live in Dublin in 1901, taking a house in Mountjoy Square, at first with his sister Nellie O’Brien, an ardent Gaelic Leaguer, who painted miniatures. In 1902, he married Mabel Smyly.
After Osborne’s death, Sarah Purser was, for several years, his rival as successor in the field of portraits. He was active in public and cultural affairs in Dublin and Cahirmoyle, which he inherited in 1907, and later sold, to settle in Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin.
His style of portraiture, landscape and still life is generally formal and academic, except for works painted during the mid-twenties, when he visited the South of France, and some refreshing Irish landscape sketches.
He died in Dublin in 1945.