Art history at the crossroads of Ireland and the United States

Routledge, 2022
pp 202 fully illustrated h/b
€142/£120 ISBN: 978-1-03212-127-7
Margarita Cappock

This anthology considers transcultural exchange between Ireland and America through a series of case studies, with contributions by both Irish and American art historians. The twelve essays are wide-ranging in scope and rich in information. They examine and consider the movement of art and artists between Ireland and the United States and the role of art institutions in advancing Irish art in America and American art in Ireland. Heretofore, much published work has focused on political, sociological and historical aspects of the relationship between Ireland and the United States, and art and art-historical elements have been overlooked. This publication is pioneering in terms of its subject matter and the essays reveal what a valuable seam of research the subject has yielded. It contains both Irish and American perspectives, thus providing further depth. The essays are disparate in terms of subject, but interesting connections emerge throughout.

This publication is pioneering in terms of its subject matter and the essays reveal what a valuable seam of research the subject has yielded.

Paula Murphy’s essay examines the commissioning of monuments to commemorate Irish-born Commodore John Barry (1745–1803) in both Philadelphia and Washington DC at the beginning of the 20th century, the latter commission proving highly controversial. Her essay expertly, and grippingly, reveals the politics at play in monument commissioning at that time and the controversy surrounding the choice and subsequent rejection of the sculptor, Andrew O’Connor.

Róisín Kennedy writes on the paintings by Irish artists Jack B Yeats, George Russell and Nathaniel Hone at the groundbreaking Armory Show in New York in 1913 and the role of John Quinn in their inclusion. Quinn also had a role in Jack Yeats’ visit to New York in spring 1904 and the graphic record of that trip is the subject of Kathryn Milligan’s essay. George Russell as a crucial link in the network of cultural connections between Ireland and America before the onset of the Second World War is the subject of Eimear O’Connor’s essay. James R Swensen examines Dorothea Lange’s venture outside the United States into the world beyond – her photographic documentation of western Ireland for Life magazine in 1954.

Cynthia Fowler examines two examples of the visual representation of Irish/African American transnational solidarity through the iconic figure of African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Laura Marshall Clarke’s essay explores the remarkable history of the relationships between members of the Choctaw people and Irish immigrants, beginning more than a century before the Irish Famine of the 1840s and continuing until today.

This publication will be of interest to scholars and students from multiple disciplines, but also to anyone interested in the Irish-American story.

Margarita Cappock is a curator and art historian.