Mary Swanzy (1882-1988)

b. Dublin, 15 Feb. 1882; dg. of Sir Henry Rosborough Swanzy, opthalmic surgeon and co-founder of Victorian Eye-and=Ear Hosp., and Mary [née Denham]; living at 23 Merrion Square; ed. Alexandra College on Earlsfort Tce. and the Lycée, Versailles - a finishing school; also attended a day-school in Freiburg; worked in Mary Manning’s studio under direction of John Butler Yeats; studied modelling with John Hughes at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art; showed ’Portrait of a child’ at the Royal Hibernian Academy [RHA], 1905 and exhbitied portraits there every year up to 1910; mvoed to Paris, 1905, working at the Delacluse studio; attended the studio of Antonio de La Gándara, 1906; took classes at Académie de la Grande Chaumière, and Académie Colarossi; met works of Gauguin, Matisse, and Picasso;

painted portraits and genre scenes in Dublin, holding her first show at Mill’s Hall, Merrion Row, 1913, with a second in 1919, including nearly 50 pieces; moved between Dublin and Saint-Tropez after her parents’ deaths, passing World War I in Saint-Tropez; exhibited at Société des Artistes Indépendants in 1914 and 1916; elected to the committee, 1920; travelled to Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia with a sister involved in relief missions and painted landscapes and peasant scenes - shown at the Dublin Painters' Gallery, autumn of 1921, with six other artists including Jack Butler Yeats, Paul Henry, and Clare Marsh; shared a studio with Marsh;

resumed travels visiting Honolulu in 1923 and later Samoa; painted flowers, trees, and women; stayed at Santa Barbara, California, and showed her Samoan work at the Santa Barbara Arts Club Gallery. returned to Ireland, Feb. 1925 and exhibited three paintings at the RHA; showed 14 more at her one-woman show in the Galèrie Bernheim Jeune (Paris) Oct. 1925; received congratulations from Gertrude Stein settled in Blackheath, London, mid-1920s; with regular trips to Dublin and abroad; Sarah Purser - who had previously praised her in reviews - held an exhibition of her work in her house in 1923; ’The message’ (Hugh Lane Gallery) is allegorical;

stayed 3 years with her sister at Coolock during World War II; held a one-woman show at the Dublin Painters’ Gallery, 1943; featured at the first Irish Exhibition of Living Art; shown at St George’s Gallery (London), with Henry Moore, Marc Chagall, and William Scott, 1946; elected Honorary Member of the RHA, 1949; had shows with the RHA in 1950 and 1951; the Hugh Lane Gallery held a major retrospective in 1968 after a long interval; held two one-woman shows at the Dawson Gallery, 1974 and 1976; featured at the Cork ROSC, 1975, and resumed showing with the RHA; continued to paint up to her death, 7 July 1978, at home in London; A centenary exhibition was held at the Taylor Galleries in 1982; featured in the Irish Museum of Modern Art [IMMA] exhibition Analysing Cubism, 2013 subject of a solo exhibition here [IMMA] called Mary Swanzy Voyages, Oct. 2018-Feb. 2019; Swanzy is noted for her eclectic style.

[ All details in this biographical note have been copied from Wikipedia which incorporates information from Ruth Devine, "Mary Swanzy". in Dictionary of Irish Biography, ed. James McGuire & James Quinn (Cambridge UP 2009) - 09.10.2020. ]

[ top ]

Detective-Inspector Swanzy: Oswald Swanzy was the target of an assassination conducted by members of the No. 1 Cork Brigade of the IRA in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, in 1920 in retaliation for the killing of Commandant Tomás MacCurtain and Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland, who was murdered in his home in Blackpool, Cork six months previous.- inspired by his conduct in Cork six months earlier, and was supposedly authorised by Michael Collins. MacCurtain’s own revolver was used in the killing havig been licensed for use by one Jim Gray, posing as a loyalist. Michael Collins debriefed the men in Vaughan’s, Dublin, and received the gun from the actually shooters, Seán Culhane and Dick Murphy Swanzy died outside church from a shot to the head and another to the body - both fatal. The killing immediately triggered the burning-out of Catholics in Lisbon and a pogrom of Catholics in Belfast with a loss of about 450 lives between that date and 1922. Swanzy’s involvement in the death of MacCurtain is circumstantial since no evidence but him on the spot but he was deemed guilty by an informal Inquest into MacCurtain’s death - where Swanzy gave evidence enying that any ammunition was missing or a raid had been conducted - which also named David Lloyd George and Lord French - the English premier and the Irish Viceroy - along with General Smith (RIC) and Inspector Clayton (RIC) as those responsible in the line of command. (See Kilmurray Museum - online; accessed 09.10.2020; see also ‘;A Gun and Its History’, in Irish Examiner, 22 Aug. 2020 = online; accessed 09.10.2020.)

[ top ]