Paul Henry

1876 – 1958

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Paul Henry was born in Belfast, one of four sons of the Rev Robert Mitchell Henry. His eldest brother, Robert Mitchell (Bob) Henry, was a distinguished classical scholar at Queen’s University Belfast, St Andrews, and Trinity College, Dublin.

Having enrolled at the Belfast School of Art, Henry travelled to Paris in 1898 enrolling in the Academie Julian and became one of the best-known Irish artists in the city.

Influenced by J.M. Synge’s ‘Riders to the Sea’, Henry lived and worked on Achill Island, off County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland, from 1910 to 1919 and continued to produce Achill landscapes in later life. In his early days on Achill Henry painted scenes of the daily activities of Irish peasants: potato digging turf cutting, harvesting seaweed, and fishing. His later works, particularly the landscapes, came to typify a vision of Ireland that was prevalent in the early years of the new Irish Free State. During the 1920s a number of Henry’s works were reproduced as posters and distributed in Ireland and abroad

After moving to Dublin, Henry became active in the local art scene, and in 1920, he and his wife Grace Mitchell Henry, together with a number of other painters including Jack B. Yeats and Mary Swanzy, founded the Society of Dublin painters.

Paul Henry influenced many other painters. He Irish landscape painting was unromantic and sympathetic to the lifestyle and environment of the poorest people of the west of Ireland. In his use of mass and colour he was the first artist working in Ireland who painted in the post-Impressionist style.

Date of Unveiling: 22 September 2004

Location of plaque: 67 University Road, Belfast

Report of Plaque unveiling available HERE