Ursula Boylan O'Gara
Irish Realist Artist Noted for Her Portraits and Landscapes of Ireland.

Pin it

For late 20th century paintings,
see: Contemporary Art.


For a list of the leading Irish
painters, including exponents of
Impressionist painting, see:
Best Irish Artists.

Ursula Boylan O'Gara (b.1936)

The award-winning traditional Irish painter Ursula Boylan O'Gara (one senses) belongs to that dwindling band of artists who were taught that fine art involves 'holding the mirror up to nature.' Thus her works do not attempt to convey any deep messages about life or the theory of painting. They are made simply to be enjoyed. Her lifelong passion for drawing and painting has drawn her into most of the major genres, including history painting (in her pictures of the Irish Civil War, not shown here), portraiture, still life (not shown) and landscape, in all of which she demonstrates exemplary composition, excellent tonal contrast, and a keen eye for detail. Blessed with a natural talent for reflecting the simple beauty of people and nature, O'Gara takes enormous pride in the integrity of her work, and it shows.

• For other postmodernists in Ireland, see: Contemporary Irish Artists.
• For the world's best, see: Top 200 Contemporary Artists.


Born in Dublin, into a talented family of musicians (both her parents were pianists), O'Gara quickly discovered her talent for art and spent much of her childhood sketching and painting - as well as learning the obligatory piano(!). Sadly, the need to make a living during the lean years of the 1950s and early 1960s, ruled out a career as a full-time artist. Instead, after initially training as a librarian, O'Gara qualified as a professional secretary and in due course went into journalism. Then, after a 12-month stint in Tokyo, she returned to Ireland and qualified as a physiotherapist: opening her own health and sports clinic. But despite an intensely active commercial career, she continued to develop her painting skills. After attending the former College of Art in Kildare Street, Dublin, she received training from both the late George Collie, RHA and the renowned Irish master Thomas Ryan PPRHA - and exhibited her works at every opportunity.


As a painter, she worked initially in watercolours, before switching to oils which became her preferred medium thereafter. She also works in acrylics, graphite, charcoal and pastels. Her style is realistic representational, and her diverse range of work includes portraiture (from life or photographs), architectural studies, landscapes and seascapes, animals and wildlife, historical subjects and floral still lifes, as well as figurative life studies and human anatomical drawings.

Influences on her style and work include Irish artists such as: the portraitist George Collie RHA (1904-1975), the portraitist, landscape and history painter Thomas Ryan RHA (b.1929), the Pop-artist and graphic designer Robert Ballagh RHA (b.1943), the French portraitist and religious painter Jacques Tissot (1836-1902), and the American artists Lynette Cook, Susan Bourdet and William Brody.

Over the years, during which time O'Gara has lived in Nigeria, Sweden, Japan, the UK, Spain and Iran, her works have been exhibited in solo and group shows in a variety of galleries including: The Combridge Gallery (Dublin), The Killakee Gallery (Dublin), and The Montserrat Gallery (New York). Latterly, she has shown at the Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea Citta de Firenza (Florence), The Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh), The Amsterdam Whitney Museum Gallery (New York City) and The Art Domain Gallery (Leipzig).

In Leipzig (2006), O'Gara won the "Palm Art Award Silver Medal" in recognition of the outstanding originality of her Art. In addition, her works have been shown several times on RTE national television, and in 1977 she was the subject of a documentary film profile entitled "The Real Ursula O'Gara."


Our Opinion

Popular in many corners of the world (her paintings have even been hung in the Pentagon, USA), Ursula Boylan O'Gara cannot possibly be summarized in a few words. Suffice it to say that she continues to produce outstanding work and, one hopes, will go on doing so for many years to come.

To contact Ursula Boylan O'Gara, or to see more examples of her art, visit her award-winning website: www.ursulaogara.com.


• For more about contemporary arts, see: Homepage.
• For details of famous painters and sculptors from Ireland, see Irish Artists.

Visual Artists, Greatest
© visual-arts-cork.com. All rights reserved.