St. George Hare
St. George Hare Limerick, 1857-1933, London
Oil on canvas, 13 x 9.5 in.
Bequest of the Donald and Marilyn Keough Foundation, 2018.
Hare was born in Limerick to an English father and an Irish mother. He began studying art at the age of fifteen at the Limerick School of Art. Three years later he moved to London, where he spent seven years at the Royal Academy of Art. Hare gained acclaim quickly, exhibiting his first painting at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1881 and his first painting at the Royal Academy shortly afterward. Rather than returning to Ireland, Hare pursued his career in England, marrying and settling in London. Over the next decades his reputation grew as an accomplished history, genre and portrait painter. He exhibited widely in London, Dublin and Paris.
Hare painted a wide variety of subjects in a range of media, lending to his reputation as something of a renaissance man. Listen is an example of his genre paintings, epitomizing what one critic called his signature “pleasant treatment of a pretty motive."
Adapted from Maria Rossi, The Donald and Marilyn Keough Collection of Irish Art, Cheryl Snay, editor. Snite Museum of Art, 2019.
From Marty Fahey, the curator of O'Brien Collection of Irish Art:
Scenes such as this were amongst the “type” of genre/fashion/portrait hybrid scenes that Hare often submitted to the famous weekly paper, The Graphic. Though it may not be a painting of an “actual” moment, its power lies in the fact that it is a convincing plausible moment that, like so many wonderful paintings, sets one’s imagination alight with questions and musings:
- who is she?
- what sort of gathering is she at that has her so dressed up?
- is she getting up to greet or to take leave of someone?
- what is she thinking, feeling?
- what has she either just heard or, alternatively, is about to say?
- like the expression of the Mona Lisa, there is something inscrutable here-
perhaps she is not prepared to speak her mind…or, at least, not to just any viewer.
Poetry and Music
Here is a poem that dovetails with the anxious mindset that this painting conjures in me.
(Can you find a poem that puts words to your thoughts and feelings about the painting?)
A New Dress
Today for the first time
after seven long years
I put on
a new dress,
But it’s too short for my grief,
too narrow for my sorrow,
and each white-glass button
like a tear
flows down the folds
heavy as a stone.
Translated by Ruth Whitman
And finally, two pieces of music to consider alongside this painting and the poem.
“The Parting of Friends” ("Sgariuni na gCompanach")
(Matt Molloy, flute; Micheal O Suilleabhain, harpsichord), “Stoney Steps," 1986
“My Dark-haired Darling” ("Ceann Dubh Dileas")
(Mick O’Brien, Aoife ni Bhriain, Emer Mayock) “More Tunes from the Goodman Manuscripts," 2021