Biographies of 19th Century Irish Artists (S-Z)
Career and Artworks of Nineteenth Century Painters from Ireland

For a list of the top painters
of Ireland, please see:
Famous Irish Artists.

For a list of top artists from
this period, please see:
18th Century Irish Artists.

For a list of top artists from
the modern era, please see:
20th Century Irish Artists;
Contemporary Irish Artists;
Most Expensive Irish Paintings.

Selected Painters (S-Z) (Born 1800-1899)

For a COMPLETE list, see: 19th Century Irish Artists

Robert Richard Scanlan (Portraiture) (1826-1876)
Stephen Catterson Smith PRHA (Portrait Artist) (1806-1872)
Estella Solomons (Academic Portraitist, Landscape Artist) (1882-1968)
Edith Somerville (Illustrator, Oil Painter, Novelist) (1858-1949)
Sir Robert Ponsonby Staples (Portraits, Landscapes) (1853-1943)
William Guy Wall (Landscape Artist) (1792-1864)
Samuel Watson (Painter and Lithographer) (1818-1867)
Lady Charlotte Wheeler-Cuffe (Botanical Artist) (1867-1967)
Alexander Williams RHA (Nature Studies, Landscape Artist) (1846-1930)
Padraic Woods ARUA (Landscape Artist) (1893-1991)

See also: 19th Century Artists A-G; Artists H-K; Artists L-R

Robert Richard Scanlan (Portraiture) (1826-1876)

Living in Dublin in the 1820s, Scanlan was a fashionable portrait painter and miniaturist who painted animals (horses and dogs) as well as people. He exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy and at the Mechanics Institute in Cork before moving to London until the early 1850s when he accepted the post as Headmaster of the Cork School of Design. During his absence he exhibited both at the Royal Academy and elsewhere in London but also continued showing at the RHA: contributing a total of 17 paintings.

Stephen Catterson Smith PRHA (Portrait Artist) (1806-1872)

Born in Yorkshire, the son of a coach-painter, he studied at the Royal Academy Schools, winning the silver medal for oil painting at the age of 18, before furthering his studies in Paris. Afterwards he settled in London, where he rapidly gained attention for his portraits in chalks, including a number of the Royal Family, and began exhibiting at the British Institution and the Royal Academy. In 1839, further portrait commissions took him to Derry in Northern Ireland, where he remained until 1845. In 1841, he contributed two portraits to the Royal Hibernian Academy - something he repeated regularly for 30 years. From Derry, he went to Dublin, settling in St Stephen's Green, where he rapidly established himself as one of the most popular portraitist's in the city, painting nearly everyone of renown, from Lord Lieutenants downward. In 1844, he was elected a full Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy, and in 1859, President. He became a Director of the National Gallery of Ireland in 1869. He died of apoplexy in May 1872, and was survived by his wife, Anne Wyke, a watercolourist, and several children, two of whom also became painters. Examples of his work can be seen at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin Castle, Trinity College Dublin, and numerous other collections both in Ireland and the UK.

Estella Frances Solomons (Academic Portraitist, Landscapes) (1882-1968)

Born into a Dublin Jewish family, the daughter of an optician, Solomons attended the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art where she studied Life drawing under Sir William Orpen. Later she studied drawing from Life and the Antique under Walter Osborne at the Royal Hibernian Academy Schools. She first showed at the Leinster Hall in Dublin in 1903 as part of an exhibition of Young Irish Artists, including works by Frances Beckett, Dorothy and Beatrice Elvery. In the same year, she spent several weeks at Colarossi's atelier in Paris. In 1905, she began exhibiting at the Royal Hibernian Academy, contributing more than 250 paintings (mainly landscapes as well as academic portraits) until her death in 1968. During the late 1900s, Solomons began to develop an interest in etching which, apart from watercolours, became her main interest, outside of oil painting: in all, she produced over 90 etchings, aquatints and drypoints, as well as some linocuts. According to Theo Snoddy [Dictionery of Irish Artists: 20th Century p.620] Solomons was a member of Cumann na mBan and her apartment, at the time of the Rising, was a "safe" house for people on the run. She also painted some of the rebels, as they passed through her hands. She continued producing portraits and etchings before and after Independence. Her sitters included the writer Alice Milligan, the poet Joseph Campbell, the artist Jack B Yeats, Frank Aiken, IRA Chief of Staff, her husband - the portraitist Seamus O'Sullivan - and many others. In time, however, landscapes began to occupy more and more of her attention. In the early 1920s, she began teaching etching at the Dublin Municipal Technical Schools, and in 1925 she was elected an Associate Member of the RHA. She continued painting up until the mid-1950s - most of her later landscapes being views of County Kerry - exhibiting at the RHA and several other venues, mainly in Dublin. As an artist, Estella Solomons is noted for the formality of her fine academic portraiture, and her unsentimental treatment of her subjects. Examples of her works can be seen at the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery in Cork; the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin; the Irish Jewish Museum; the National Gallery of Ireland; the Limerick City Gallery of Art; the Sligo Model and Niland Centre and the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Edith Somerville (Illustrator, Oil Painter, Novelist) (1858-1949)

Born in Corfu into a family whose main residence was Drishane House Castletownshend, West Cork, Edith Anne Oenone Somerville is much better known for her stories of Irish country life (Irish R.M.) - which she co-wrote with her cousin in Violet Martin under the name of Somerville and Ross - than for her paintings and drawings. But in fact she began as an art student, and became a painter and illustrator of some distinction. Growing up in Drishane House, she developed an early interest in writing and drawing caricatures, and decided to make a career in art. In 1877, she enrolled for a term at the South Kensington School of Art but drawing from the antique was not to her taste. Some time later, at the suggestion of her cousin, the landscape artist Egerton Bushe Coghill (1853-1921), who was using a studio in Dusseldorf, she went there to study Life drawing under Gabriel Nicolet. In 1883, some of her completed works were then shown at the Irish Fine Art Society in Cork. In 1884, she joined Coghill in Paris, where she painted at Colarossi's atelier, and showed again with the Irish Fine Art Society. In 1886, she painted the first of several portraits of her cousin and later co-author, Violet Martin, which now hangs at the National Portrait Gallery in London, after which she produced two of her most notable Salon-style works: "Retrospect" (1887) and "The Goose Girl" (1888). She also began producing a number of illustrations and comic strips for "The Graphic" magazine, as a prelude to doing the graphics for her first novel "An Irish Cousin", with Martin. Thereafter, during a long career as both artist and writer, Somerville made regular trips to the Continent, studying, painting, and illustrating. She exhibited both at home and abroad, at venues such as the Royal Hibernian Academy, the Hugh Lane Gallery and the inaugural Irish Exhibition of Living Art (all in Dublin), Goupil Gallery, Gafton Galleries, and Walker's Galleries (in London). She also visited the United States, where she showed in California and New York. In 1932, an honorary Doctorate of Literature was conferred on her by Trinity College Dublin, and in 1941 she was awarded the Gregory Medal by the Irish Academy of Letters. As a fine artist, she remained an accomplished oil painter, although her talents are probably best exemplified by her illustrations, typically executed in a more spontaneous and witty style, than her more serious paintings.

Sir Robert Ponsonby Staples (Portrait Artist, Landscapes) (1853-1943)

Born in Dundee, Scotland, the son of Sir Nathaniel Alexander Staples, whose principal home was at Lissan House, Cookstown, County Tyrone, Robert trained at the Louvain Academy of Fine Arts (1865-70), majoring in art and architecture; combining this with a period of study at Dresden in 1867. In 1872, after a short interval, he spent a further two years studying under J F Portaels at the Brussels Academy, before returning to London where he began showing at the Royal Academy, in 1875, as well as the Society of British Artists. Mingling in the highest social circles, he sketched and painted a number of aristrocrats, including the Prince of Wales (later King Edward), as well as famous individuals like the composer Edward Elgar, the artist James McNeill Whistler and the playwright George Bernard Shaw. In 1875, he began showing at the Royal Hibernian Academy, a connection he maintained, on and off, until 1928, exhibiting nearly forty works. Among works completed during the 1880s, were "Australia v. England", "The Last Shot For The Queen's Prize At Wimbleton" and "The Dying Emperor Wilhelm I". In the 1890s his sitters included Sarah Bernhardt, Cardinal Manning, the cricketer W G Grace, Lord Randolph Churchill (father of Winston Churchill) and the Prime Minister W E Gladstone. Returning to Belfast in 1904, Staples was elected a member of the Belfast Art Society with whom he exhibited regularly thereafter. A man of considerable charm, he was essentially an aristocrat of the 19th century, and enjoyed the full range of aristocratic pursuits including attendance at Ascot, boating at Henley, exclusive Club life and more. He was also mildly eccentric, and spent at least a quarter of an hour each day walking barefoot, in order to minimize the ill-effects of modern living, which he believed derived from the practice of insulating one's feet from the earth's magnetism. Nevertheless, he was considered an accomplished exponent of academic portrait art, noted for his scenes of Edwardian life, and his works are represented in many public and private collections, both in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

William Guy Wall (Landscape Artist) (1792-1864)

Born in Dublin, Wall possibly studied at the Royal Dublin Society Schools, since by the time he arrived in New York, in 1812, he was already well trained in watercolour painting. Taking an active interest in his new environment, Wall soon developed a reputation for his sensitive but unromanticised watercolour scenes of the Hudson River Valley and its surroundings - works that have led him to be classified as a precursor to the Hudson River school of landscape painting. A selection of Wall's landscapes were engraved and published in aquatint by John Hill in the Hudson River Portfolio (New York, 1821-1825), one of the first publications to highlight the natural beauty of the American scenery. A few of the engravings were later added to stoneware manufactured at Stevenson's Cobridge pottery works in Staffordshire, England. Wall was an active participant in the New York art scene, and became a founder-member of the important National Academy of Design. He was also a regular exhibitor at numerous venues and institutions like the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and the Apollo Association in New York. He remained in America for over 20 years until the early 1830s after which he returned to Dublin where he started showing at the Royal Hibernian Academy from 1840. In 1843 he joined Edward Hayes, Michael Angelo Hayes, and the Brocas family, in their founding of the Society of Irish Artists. In his early 60s, feeling that he had been passed over, he returned to the United States for five years (1856-60) without achieving the impact he hoped for. He duly made his way back to Dublin, where he died in 1864. Examples of his work can be found at the Hudson River Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the fine arts collection of the New York Historical Society, the Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), and the Honolulu Academy of Arts. His son, William Archibald Wall (1820–1875) also became a landscape painter.

Samuel Watson (Lithographic Artist, Genre Painter) (1818-1867)

Born in Cork, the elder brother of Henry Watson (1822-1911) the portraitist, landscape and still life artist patronized by Sir Charles Domvile, Samuel moved (with Henry) to Dublin in 1836 on the death of his father. While Henry attended the Royal Hibernian Academy School, Samuel took on a variety of portraiture and other commissions, adding to his skills by absorbing the new technique of lithography which became the foundation of an extensive commercial practice. He is best-known for his lithographed pictures of the leaders of the 1848 Young Ireland Movement (including, W Smith, O'Brien, Kevin Izod O'Doherty, Gavan Duffy et al), completed in the late 1840s. In addition, he produced large maps of Irish towns, fringed with views of local scenery, as well as several book illustrations. He also found time to develop something of a fine arts practice, completing a number of rural genre scenes in oils and watercolours, including "The Irish Jig" and "The Battle of Clontarf" and "A Scene at Donnybrook Fair," all of which he showed at the Royal Hibernian Academy in the mid-1840s.

Lady Charlotte Wheeler-Cuffe (née Williams) (Botanical Artist) (1867-1967)

Born in London, grand-daughter of the Reverend Sir Hercules Langrishe third Baronet of Knocktopher, Co. Kilkenny, her father being a President of the Law Society. Her Irish ancestry was strengthed on her marriage to Sir Otway Wheeler Cuffe of Kilkenny, a senior official in the British Foreign Service, who became Superintendant of Engineering Works in Burma. Joining her husband in Burma, where they remained for almost a quarter of a century, Lady Charlotte accompanied him on his travels around the remote regions of the country, sketching and painting rare flowers in their natural habitat en route. Noted for their oriental understated style, many of her illustrations are documented in her correspondence with the Director of the Irish National Botanic Gardens, as well as her cousin the Baroness Pauline Prochazka. One of the first botanical painters to explore Mount Victoria (1911), she discovered several rare species of rhododendrons (eg. Rhodendron Cuffeanum [named after her] and the yellow flowered Rhodendron Burmanicum), which she sketched and then dispatched to the Irish National Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin where they thrived. (Rhodendron Cuffeanum has not been collected by any botanist since.) Specializing in drawing orchids, along with landscapes of Burma (and Ireland), she eventually returned to Kilkenny and in 1926 donated the majority of her collection (which included several hundred watercolours) to the Irish National Botanic Gardens. She died at Lyrath aged 99.

Alexander Williams RHA (Nature Studies, Landscapes) (1846-1930)

Born in Monaghan, the son of a hatter, he took evening classes at the Royal Dublin Society School of Art, while apprenticed to his father. Despite this lack of full-time art study, he must have possessed considerable natural talent, as he began exhibiting at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1870 and never missed a single RHA show over the next sixty years - contributing in total more than 450 paintings. To begin with, these were mostly nature studies, but later included landscapes and genre painting. He was also an ardent member of the Dublin Sketching Club, where he exhibited several hundred of his works. In 1884, he was elected an Associate Member of the RHA - the same year he staged his first solo show in Dublin - and a full member in 1891. He also showed many works at the Water Colour Society of Ireland and the Belfast Art Society. After accepting a senior post with the Dublin Corporation in 1897, relating to the city's portrait collection, his attention turned to England and he began exhibiting in Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol. In 1901, he held his first solo show in London, at the Modern Gallery in Bond Street, selling over fifty of his paintings. In later life, he became of student of wild birds and also developed an interest in illustration. He also travelled extensively, exhibiting his works as far afield as South Africa, Australia and Canada. A popular painter throughout most of his life, he is noted in particular for the lyrical quality of his smaller scale nature studies. Examples of his work can be seen at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Yacht Club, Kilkenny, the Limerick City Gallery of Art, the Armagh County Museum and the Monaghan County Museum.

Padraic Woods ARUA (Landscape Artist) (1893-1991)

Born in Newry, County Down, one of nine children, Woods first studied at the Belfast School of Art at the age of fifteen, winning a scholarship to St Patrick's Training College in Dublin. Subsequently, on his return to Belfast in 1914 - although he continued with his art classes up until 1917 - he quickly accepted a full-time teaching post. It was at this time that he began a lifelong friendship with the landscape painter J Humbert Craig (1877-1944). In 1920, he began exhibiting with the Belfast Art Society and in 1931 he was elected an Associated Member of the Ulster Academy of Arts. The following year he began showing at the Oireachtas, and at the Royal Hibernian Academy, with whom he exhibited a total of 24 works over the next forty years. During the 1930s, Woods made a number of painting trips, to Achill Island, Donegal, Connemara, Switzerland and Brittany.Specializing in traditional, naturalistic landscapes, Woods also produced a number of genre works and portraits - his sitters included Canon John MacLaverty and Professor D L Savory of Queens University. In 1946, at the age of fifty-three, he took early retirement to devote himself to a full-time painting career. He became a regular exhibitor at the Ulster Arts Club, becoming President in 1948, and also at the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts. In 1950, he held his first solo show at 55a Donegall Place, Belfast. He continued travelling, painting in Spain, France and Italy. In 1954, he had a second solo show at 55a Donegall Place and another at 7 St Stephen's Green, Dublin. In 1960, he participated in a joint exhibition at the Royal Ulster Academy along with the figure and portrait painter William Conor (1881-1968) and the cartoonist and illustrator Rowel Friers (1920-98). In 1964, he was appointed a Governor of the Belfast College of Art. Further exhibitions included a joint showing along with other Ulster artists at the Gordon Gallery in London (1966) and a solo show at Queen's University in 1968. Woods' painting was relatively well received during his life-time, and in 1987 he was honoured with a small retrospective at the Linen Hall Library in Belfast. He died in a County Down nursing home in 1991 at the age of 98. Examples of his work are in the collections of Queen's University, Belfast, the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin and the National Museum of Ireland, among others.

• For more biographies, see: Homepage.
• For a review of landscape art, see Irish Landscape Artists.
• For a summary of portraiture, see Irish Portrait Artists.
• For details of genre-works, see: Irish Genre-Painters.
• For a personal view of the top painters, see: Best Irish Artists (Painters).

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