The Lake of the Tears of the Sorrowing Women

Paul Henry RHA (1876 – 1958)

  • Artist
    Paul Henry RHA
  • Title
    The Lake of the Tears of the Sorrowing Women
  • Date
    1916
  • Dimensions
    61 × 51cm
  • Medium
    Oil on canvas
  • Collection
    Niland Collection
  • Provenance
    Presented by James A. Healy in 1975 (Josephine C. Healy Memorial Collection)
Description

This painting can be dated to 1916–17 when the Henrys were living on Achill. The enigmatic title is believed to have been suggested by Johnny Tom Owen MacNamara, a carpenter who had worked in Chicago, New York and London before returning home to Achill where he befriended Henry and often took him on fishing trips.

The palette and atmosphere of this painting suggests the influence of the American born, avant garde painter James McNeill Whistler. In Paris, Henry had studied at the Académie Carmen which was established by Whistler in 1898. Although Whistler only taught there sporadically, he implemented a strict regime for the students dominated by his aesthetic and technical ideas. As this painting suggests, Henry was greatly influenced by Whistler’s approach, in particular his belief that the subject of a work of art ‘should be presented in a simple manner, without an attempt to obtain a thousand changes of colour that there are in reality’.

This painting was included in Henry’s exhibition at the Hackett Gallery, New York in March 1930. It failed to sell but remained in New York, where it was later purchased from the artist by his friend and patron, James A. Healy in 1933.

Written by Riann Coulter

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