Margaret Clarke
Irish Figure Painter, Portrait Artist. Biography, Paintings.

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like Margaret Clarke, see:
Irish Portrait Artists.

Margaret Clarke RHA (1888-1961)

Portraitist, figure painter and landscape artist, Margaret Clarke (nee Crilley) was born in County Down and won a scholarship to the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art where she studied under the great academic portrait artist William Orpen, becoming one of his top students.

In October 1914 she married fellow artist Harry Clarke with whom she spent several summers on the Aran Islands, along with the romantic nationalist portrait and figure painter Sean Keating.


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In 1911, Margaret Clarke entered the BBE National Art Competition and won silver and bronze medals for her figure painting of female nudes. In 1913, she won bronze in the nude figure category. After training as a teacher, she taught painting and life drawing at the Metropolitan School of Art and the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA).

In 1915, she exhibited at the RHA, contributing more than 60 artworks over the next 40 years, many of them portraits. In 1924, she won the Tailteann gold, silver and bronze medals. In 1928 she won another Tailteann bronze, a feat she repeated in 1932.


Margaret Clarke's many commissions included portraits (produced in charcoal as well as oils) of Dermod O'Brien, President of the Royal Hibernian Academy (1935), Dr Edward Sheridan, President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin (1946), and the painting "St Patrick Climbs Croagh Patrick" (Dublin, Mansion House, 1932). However, Clarke's reputation rests on landscapes and small-format subject paintings like flowerpieces as well as the portrait of Lennox Robinson (1926) and the portrait of Harry Clarke (c.1932). Clarke also produced a number of pictures that were strongly influenced by William Orpen, such as "Strindbergian" (1927). In 1930 she was commissioned to design a poster for the Empire Marketing Board.

Margaret Clarke was made ARHA in 1926 and became a full member the following year. In addition, she was a member of the executive committee of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art on its founding in 1943. Her work was added to the National Self Portrait Collection in 2001. Clarke's works can be found in several public collections, including: the Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; the Limerick City Gallery of Art and the National Collection of Contemporary Drawing.

More Information About Visual Arts in Ireland

• For details of other portraitists and figure painters, see: Irish Artists Biographies.
• For more about female artists like Margaret Clarke, see: Irish Art Guide.
• For more about figurative painting, see: Homepage.

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