George Mounsey Atkinson
Irish Marine Artist. Biography, Seascape Paintings.

Boating Party in Cork Harbour

George Mounsey Atkinson (1806-84)

The Irish marine painter George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson was born in Cobh, County Cork and trained originally as a carpenter. He then went to sea for several years as a ship's carpenter before returning to Cobh, where he became a Marine and Customs official (Inspector of Shipping and Emigrants). His family (three sons and a daughter) included George Mounsey junior, Robert and Sarah Atkinson, all of whom were accomplished artists.


Atkinson was a self-taught artist who began painting in his mid-thirties. He had a thorough knowledge of the sea and - like Richard Brydges Beechey, Edwin Hayes, and the later William Coulter - specialised in marine art. His works were shown first at the inaugural Cork Art Union exhibition in 1841, where he exhibited five oil paintings, each representing a different view of Cove, in storm, in calm, in haze, and in sunshine. They depicted a variety of shipping vessels including brigs, schooners, cutters, and steamers. It's worth remembering that Cork was a major commercial port at this time, trading with the Americas and other far-flung stations of the British Empire.


George Mounsey Atkinson's marine paintings and pictures of Cork were exhibited at numerous Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) exhibitions, and works can be found at the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork. His paintings are also in the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut and in the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. In his acute description of weather conditions and his depiction of sailing ships and their rigging, George Atkinson can be compared with the American luminist painters Francis Silva and Fitz Hugh Lane. There are a number of works by Atkinson in the Crawford Gallery to commemorate his outstanding contribution to the visual art of Ireland.

More Information About Visual Arts in Ireland

• For details of other Cork painters and sculptors, see: Irish Artists: Paintings and Biographies.
• For more about coastal and seascape painters like George Mounsey Atkinson, see: Irish Art Guide.
• For more about landscape and marine art, see: Homepage.

History of Irish Art
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