Hector McDonnell
Irish Realist Painter and Etcher. Biography, Paintings.

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Hector McDonnell (b.1947)

The Irish realist painter, watercolourist, etcher and draughtsman Hector McDonnell was born and brought up in County Antrim, the youngest son of the unusual Earl and Countess of Antrim. His mother was a dedicated sculptress and cartoonist. In 1964, Hector McDonnell travelled to Munich and then Vienna to study drawing and painting, as well as sculpture, studying for a spell under Hans Wotruba, the famous Viennese Secessionist sculptor. McDonnell then studied history at Oxford University, studying figure drawing on the side.

After graduating McDonnell decided to become a full time artist. He married, set up in a small studio in South London and started painting.



Within two years, during which time he survived by selling his pictures privately, he was given a solo exhibition at the Hamet Gallery, London. After this, he became an exhibitor with the emiment Fischer Fine Art Gallery, London. More solo exhibitions followed in Munich and Vienna, after which McDonnell participated in two major shows of contemporary art in Paris on the theme of Contemporary International Realism.

In 1981, McDonnell won the Darmstadter Kunstpreis - one of Germany's most illustrious art prizes. This led to a major exhibition at the Darmstadt Arts Museum in which over 150 of McDonnell's paintings and more than 100 drawings were shown, along with a comprehensive catalogue of McDonnell's artwork to date.

Since then, Hector McDonnell has enjoyed a number of successful one-man shows in Germany, Paris, Stuttgart, Belfast, Stockholm and Madrid, as well as others in London and Ireland. He has produced a series of etchings and drawings based upon his Oriental travels to China, Tibet and Pakistan, as well as a number of fine watercolours. In 2003, McDonnell exhibited his recent Tibetan paintings at a solo show at the Berkeley Square Gallery in London. He completed a further set of etchings and drawings, based on his visit to Rwanda.

9/11 Art, New York

In 1988, Hector McDonnell set up home in New York, whose cityscapes he first painted two decades previously. He and his partner now divide their time between their homes in Antrim and New York. Following the tragic events of September 11th 2001, Hector McDonnell painted Ground Zero and the surrounding streets, capturing the architectural changes and their effects on ordinary New Yorkers - this work was recently exhibited as a poignant record of 'post-9/11' New York life. He is one of the most successful contemporary realist painters in Irish art.

Most Expensive Work by Hector McDonell

The auction record for a work by Hector McDonell was set in 2007, when his oil painting, entitled Warner Dailey's Kitchen, was sold at Christie's, in London, for £21,600.

More Information About Irish Culture

• For details of other painters, see: Irish Artists: Paintings and Biographies.
• For more about Irish artists like Hector McDonnell, see: Irish Art Guide.
• For more about Realism, see: Homepage.

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