Augustus Nicholas Burke
Irish Landscape Artist. Biography, Paintings.

Sea-Weed Gatherers, Wexford Coast.

Augustus Burke RHA (1838-1891)

The Irish landscape and rural artist Augustus Burke was born into the Burkes of Glinsk, an ancient and distinguished Galway family who were descendants of William the Conqueror. He was the sixth son of William Burke of Knocknagur. One of his brothers was Theobald Hubert Burke, 13th Baronet of Glinsk; another was Thomas Henry Burke, Head of the Irish Office in the British Civil Service.

A Study on the Thames.
A perfect example of
Burke's naturalism.

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Augustus Nicholas Burke showed an early interest in sketching and most of his first drawings were inspired by local rural scenes. Indeed, his love of the people and landscape of Connemara, would influence his painting for the duration of his life. He began his artistic career in London by studying at the Royal Academy Art School, and from the age of 30 until his death at the age of 53, he exhibited both at the Royal Academy (RA), and also at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA). For two years, between 1870 and 1872, Augustus lived in Holland, where he painted many Dutch scenes some of which were duly shown at the Royal Hibernian Academy.

After Holland, Burke went to Pont-Aven in Brittany, being one of the earliest Irish artists to paint in this region of France. Aloysius O'Kelly was another Irish painter in Brittany around this time, but others like Roderic O'Conor did not arrive in Brittany until the 1890s. Fifteen of Burke's Breton scenes were later shown at the Royal Hibernian Academy between 1876 and 1878. Leaving Brittany, Burke continued painting in Ireland, Scotland and England. In the 1880's he painted for a spell in Suffolk at an artist colony set up by Philip Wilson Steer. Walter Osborne, one of Augustus Burke's most successful students, joined him there.


Augustus Burke's paintings are rarely seen, not least because the main art collection of his studio - kept at the Royal Hibernian Academy - was destroyed during the fire that burned down their Abbey Street buildings in 1916. Two of his most famous paintings, "A Connemara Landscape" and "Connemara Girl" can be viewed at the National Gallery of Ireland. In addition, the gallery boasts a charcoal sketch of Burke made by his friend Alfred Grey in 1873, as well as a wax medallion portrait executed by John Woodhouse. In the Royal Hibernian Academy hangs a portrait of Augustus Burke by Walter Osborne.

Most Expensive Painting by Augustus Nicholas Burke

The auction record for a work by Augustus Nicholas Burke was set in 2007, when his oil painting entitled Seaweed Gatherers was sold at DeVeres, in Dublin, for €50,000.

See also: Plein-Air Painting in Ireland.

More Information About Irish Painting

• For details of other rural painters from Ireland, see: Irish Artists: Paintings and Biographies.
• For more about painters like Augustus Nicholas Burke, see: Irish Art Guide.
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