Conservation: Frank O'Meara Self Portrait

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Conservation of Self Portrait by Frank O'Meara

As part of our theme 'Artist as Witness: Migrations' for 2017, 'Frank O'Meara and Irish Artists Abroad' is a new display of paintings curated by Jessica O'Donnell on view in galleries 12 and 13 exploring the work of artists who, influenced by innovative new developments in en plein air painting on the Continent travelled abroad to develop their art practice. Now on display following conservation is a beautiful rare self portrait by Frank O'Meara which the Gallery has recently acquired with the financial support of Mary Stratton Ryan, art historian.

Since the arrival of the painting in November 2016, it has undergone technical research and examination by our Conservator Lucia Fabbro to help determine its condition and painting materials.Using non-invasive analyses: visible light, raking light and ultra-violet light information can be gleaned to better understand the condition of the painting and how to treat it. Following a cleaning test, the painting has been sensitively cleaned to remove dirt and grime to reveal the original colours and wonderful brushstrokes. The artist's signature and '1884' date is also clearer.

Born in Carlow, Frank O'Meara (1853-1888) studied at the atelier of Carolus-Duran in Paris. There, he became friends with John Singer Sargent who painted a sensitive portrait of a young twenty-two year old O'Meara in 1875. That portrait of O'Meara was presented by his companion, the American Isobel Osbourne to the Century Association in New York. The only known self portrait by Frank O'Meara, which is now belonging to the Hugh Lane Gallery, was painted in 1884 during the period the artist was at the village of Grez-sur-Loing, near Fontainebleu. O'Meara's oeuvre is characterised by a poetic wistfulness. His pensive figures are often portrayed in outdoor autumnal settings bathed in even, muted light or at twilight against the background of a rising moon. O'Meara died at the young age of thirty-five. During his artistic career, he worked slowly and carefully and there is not a large number of extant works by the artist. This Gallery has the largest number of works (six) by O'Meara in a public collection.