Mildred Anne Butler
Irish Landscape Artist. Biography, Paintings.

The Garden Path

Mildred Anne Butler RWS (1858-1941)

The Irish landscape painter Mildred Anne Butler was born and spent most of her life in the family home, Kilmurry in Thomastown, County Kilkenny. Butler's work often depicts the birds and animals native to the gardens and country landscapes around her Kilmurry home. As it happened, she outlived all her 5 brothers and sisters and inherited the family house.

The Cock

For a guide to scenic painters like
Mildred Butler, see:
Irish Landscape Artists.

For answers to popular queries,
see: Irish Art Questions.

In the early 1880s, she travelled to Brussels and Paris where she studied drawing, and fine art painting alongside contemporaries like Walter Osborne and John Lavery, and spent some time in London working under Paul Jacob Naftel, whom she later claimed had given her a profound understanding of the art of watercolour painting. Her French training was considered highly uncoventional in British art circles; London's Royal Academy refused to exhibit artists who painted in the French style, and any young painters who did so were obliged to form their own society in order to exhibit their paintings. This prejudice diminished during the 1890s, and in 1896 Mildred Butler's "Morning Bath" was acquired by the Tate Gallery, a rare honour for a watercolourist, especially a female artist.

Meanwhile, from 1890 onwards, Butler began exhibiting her art at the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, and in 1893 her work was included in an album of watercolours presented to the future Queen Mary. (A small watercolour of crows hangs in Queen Mary's doll's house at Windsor.) In 1896, Mildred Butler became an associate member of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours.

While in Paris she became associated with the Newlyn school, spending the summers of 1894 and 1895 in Cornwall studying under the Irish landscape and figure painter Norman Garstin, who, like Walter Osborne, had been a pupil of the Antwerp master Charles Verlat.


She exhibited just five works at the Royal Hibernian Academy, although she showed at the first Belfast Art Society show and was elected a full member of the Ulster Academy of Arts in 1930. However, despite her expertise in watercolours, it wasn't until 1937 - 40 years after being granted associate membership - that she was given full membership of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours.

Butler's works were exhibited as far afield as America and Japan during her lifetime and the Kilkenny Museum of Art was renamed the Butler Gallery in her honour. She continued painting in watercolours and oils until the final decade. She died in 1941, aged 83. Her works appear in a number of collections of Irish painting.

Most Expensive Painting By Mildred Anne Butler

The auction record for a work by Mildred Butler was set in 2008, when her oil painting, entitled War In Mid Air, was sold at Whytes, in Dublin, for €39,000.

More Information About Irish Culture

• For details of other landscape painters from Ireland, see: Irish Artists: Paintings and Biographies.
• For more about flower-painters like Mildred Anne Butler, see: Irish Art Guide.
• For more about watercolours and gouache, see: Homepage.

History of Irish Art
© All rights reserved.