Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Three Irish Painters

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A PSA: remember to wear green, so you don’t get pinched! Let me thank you for taking a moment in between green beers to read this post. Your shepherd’s pie is probably waiting, so let’s get right to it: Irish painters.

One of Ireland’s most famous painters is Charles Jervas. He had the distinct honor of painting Jonathan Swift (redhead!) and Alexander Pope, as well as other dignitaries. Fun fact: he also did the translation work for a little book called “Don Quixote.” (Which Wikipedia tells me is the second most-translated book in the world besides the Bible.) Jervas was notorious for being more than a little confident. You might say he was straight up conceited, in fact. With good reason, I suppose. He did have a knack for portraits. Or McPortraits as they call them in Ireland.

Portrait of Sir Isaac Newton. Survivor of the appleocolypse.

Jack Butler Yeats was another big name in Irish art circles. If the name is familiar, it’s because his family was super artsy. His dad, John, was a portrait painter and his brother, William, is the famous poet. No doubt Jack grew up under a barrage of limericks at the dinner table. Let’s try one:

My brother Jack likes to paint

My mother swears he’s a saint

But I know better

It would just upset her

Instead of “isn’t” he says “ain’t.”


Jack was talented in his own right, creating paintings like this. Ain’t it lovely?

The Birds are on the Move. This title makes me laugh because, um… I don’t see any birds.

Mary Swanzy (are we all picturing Mary Swanson from “Dumb and Dumber”?) is one of many talented Irish female artists. Nano Reid, Mainie Jellett, and Letitia Marion Hamilton are just a few others. But I love Swanzy’s swanky paintings that are so bold and colorful. She lived in Hawaii for a while, and the influence is clear in her paintings.

Aloha! This is called A Voyage No Longer Overlooked.

Please resume your St. Patrick’s Day celebration now, wowing your friends with your knowledge of Irish art history. And pro tip? Guinness pairs perfectly with Lucky Charms.

*This post was first published March 17, 2021

Posted in: art

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