This image is subject to copyright and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without written permission.
George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Mary Colum

Portrait of Mary Colum

George William Russell (AE) (1867 – 1935)

  • Artist
    George William Russell (AE)
  • Title
    Portrait of Mary Colum
  • Date
    1924
  • Dimensions
    53.5 × 43cm
  • Medium
    Oil on canvas
  • Collection
    Niland Collection
  • Provenance
    Unknown
Description

Mary Colum (1884-1957) was an academic and writer who spent most of her adult life in New York. She was born in Collooney, Co. Sligo and later taught at Padraig Pearse’s school in St. Enda’s in Dublin. In 1912 she married the writer Padraic Colum whose literary career AE had encouraged. The couple emigrated to the United States in 1914.

Colum recounts the creation of this portrait in her auto-biography (1). It was painted in Dublin in 1924 while she was back on a visit from America. AE was interested in painting her so that he could hear her views on modern poetry, a subject on which she wrote and lectured. But during the sittings Colum had difficulty getting a word in as AE held forth on the topic. Colum found the best way of intervening was to ‘whirl off some strange piece of poetry’ usually in French or German which AE didn’t understand. AE got his revenge by making Colum’s curly red hair look wild in the finished portrait, despite the fact that she had had a finger wave put in to keep it under control. Colum also felt that AE had made her mouth too large while AE retorted that nature had given her practically no mouth and that he’d had to invent one for her. One gets a sense of the amiable tension between the two writers in the taut features of Colum’s face. The latter is relieved by the attention given to her red hair and the embroidered blue throw which she is wearing.

(1)Mary Colum, Life and the Dream, Doubleday and Company, New York, 1947, p.172.

Written by Roisin Kennedy

Browse the Collection

Browse by: Image / List

  1. Jack B. Yeats - White Shower
  2. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Augusta Gregory
  3. George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935) - Portrait of Kitsy Franklin
  4. Louis le Brocquy - The Táin - Cúchulainn mounting into his chariot
  5. Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) - Wood Nymph
  6. Louis le Brocquy - Study towards an Image of W.B. Yeats
  7. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - Self Portrait
  8. Rita Duffy (b.1959) - Belfast Pieta
  9. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)-A Western Town, Night
  10. Jack B. Yeats - Crest of the Hill
  11. Nick Miller - John McGahern
  12. Nick Miller - Portrait of Barrie Cooke
  13. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- An Island Funeral
  14. Maurice MacGonigal, PRHA (1900 - 1979)- Port Rachrainn
  15. Sean Keating PRHA (1889 - 1979) - William and Mary
  16. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Mountain window
  17. Kathy Prendergast (b.1958) - Untitled
  18. Jack B. Yeats (1871 - 1957) - The Toy Theatre
  19. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Susan Mitchell
  20. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Simon the Cyrenian
  21. Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)- Untitled, the interior of a shop
  22. Norah McGuinness - Tide Receding, Dublin Bay
  23. John B. Yeats (1839-1922) - Portrait of Jennie Mitchell
  24. Rita Duffy (b.1959) -Seige ||