George Bernard O'Neill was born in Dublin on 17 July 1828. He travelled to England in 1837 where he attended school in Woolwich and lived at 2 Nightingale Terrace. In 1845 he was accepted at the Royal Academy School and started exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy from 1847. In 1855, he married Emma Stuart Callcott, a cousin of the artist John Callcott Horsley. Through his wife, he was introduced to the Cranbrook Colony in 1859 and kept a home and studio near Cranbrook where many of his paintings were set. He also had a home and studio at the Mall in Kensington Gravel Pits, now known as Notting Hill Gate. This was an area popular with other artists such as George Henry Boughton and James McNeill Whistler who he became friends with.
O'Neill specialised in charming genre scenes with a slightly humorous or sentimental narrative. This technique espoused by the Cranbrook school which he was part of was often used as a tool to appeal to the social conscience of the viewer. His works were highly popular amongst the emerging middle class, especially in the North and Midlands who were part of a growing social movement. He died in London on 23 September 1917.
Examples of his works can be found in a number of museums and art galleries including the Bury Art Museum, Guildhall Art Gallery, Leeds City Art Gallery, Sheffield Museum, Tate, Walker Art Gallery and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
*Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, Lord Deputy of Ireland (1593-1641) was a supporter of King Charles I and served in parliament. He was married 3 times and had three children, William (b.1626) Ann (b1627) and Arabella (b1630). In 1632, he was made Lord Deputy of Ireland where he implemented a number of changes. He returned to England in 1640 and was made an advisor to the King, however his attempts at strengthening Charles’s position put him at odds with parliament. After failing to impeach him, his enemies eventually managed to pass a bill of attainder against him and pressured the King to sign his death warrant. He was executed on the 12 May 1641. Charles always regretted his decision and some of his last words before he himself was executed were about Strafford, saying that God had permitted his execution as punishment for his consenting to Strafford's death. Although Wentworth’s honours were forfeited by the attainder, Charles granted them to William on 1 December 1641. Later in 1662 Parliament reversed the attainder, and William, already 1st Earl of Strafford of the second creation, became also 2nd earl in succession to his father.
In this poignant painting, Wentworth is depicted as a loving father with a thoughtful air, perhaps foreshadowing his betrayal by Charles I, whose portrait hangs above him. He is seated next to one of his daughters and both of their gazes are directed at William, his only son and heir who has just returned from outdoors. William holds a sword up in his right hand, representing the fortitude he will need in the coming years. In his right hand is an oak branch which he has just cut from the tree seen through the doorway, perhaps reflecting the downfall of the King as well being a symbol of the restoration of the monarchy.
The painting is housed in a new, English made gilt frame which is in excellent condition.
|Image Size||24 inches x 30.25 inches (61.5cm x 77cm)|
|Framed Size||32.25 inches x 38.25 inches (82cm x 97cm)|