George Bernard Oneill Biography | Oil Paintings

7-17-1828 Dublin, IRL – 9-23-1917 London, ENG

Oneill, George Bernard

Born in Ireland, George Bernard O'Neill family moved to England in 1837, when he was nine years old. He was accepted at the Royal Academy Schools when he was nineteen, in 1845. He was a successful student, started to exhibit at the Royal Academy from 1847 onwards, and gained a reputation as a painter of beguiling story scenes. The Foundling, exhibited in 1852, demonstrated his awareness of works by the Old Masters combined with the appealing subject of an orphaned child.

In 1855 George Bernard O'Neill married Emma Stuart Callcott, a cousin of the painter John Callcott Horsley. Through this marriage, he entered Horsley’s artistic circle and by 1859 was introduced to the Cranbrook Art Colony. The following year, he and his wife leased a medieval timber-framed house, near the town of Cranbrook and used it as their summer home and studio for many years, it was featured in many of O'Neill's oil paintings.

O' Neill's artistic manner was similar to that of Thomas Webster and Frederick Daniel Hardy. The close relationship between O'Neill and Hardy can be seen in their painting The Surprise, where Hardy painted the cottage interior and O'Neill, the figure. O'Neil painted a lot of scenes of rural life, at times somewhat humorous, sometimes sentimental, that appealed to the new middle-class customers.

George Bernard O'Neill also kept a home and studio in London, where he spent the winter months participating in the capital's artistic life. In the 1870s, along with George Henry Boughton, he became friends with James McNeill Whistler and offered him moral support during the years 1877-78, when Whistler sued the critic John Ruskin for libel over one of his paintings. Although O’Neill’s artistic views were in many ways contrary to those of Whistler, they both believed that the artist’s aesthetic purpose gave validity to a work of art.

Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.

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