“SADDLEMAKER’S SHOP” BY JOSEPH MALACHY KAVANAGH R.H.A (IRISH, 1856-1918)
In oil on canvas, signed J.M. Kavanagh lower right
Item # 807GZH21Q
Kavanagh’s skill and perspective as an artist are fully developed in this fine scene capturing a seated saddlemaker focused fully on his craft, surrounded by his tools of the trade and scraps of leather while sunlight bursts through the windows with a high degree of technical exactness. It has a brilliant palette that exaggerates high-chroma aspects of the scene and lends a warm nostalgia to the scene; an exactness of scale and careful eye for detailing is balanced with a loose brush, bold strokes and emphasis on geometric shapes that leave a the viewer with a certain cartoon-like effect. The scene is beautifully framed in an early frame, possibly original.
Born in 1856, Joseph Kavanagh’s career developed in step with that of his friends and contemporaries Walter Osborne and Nathaniel Hill; the three of them studied under Verlat in Antwerp in 1881 and much of their work is similar in composition and technique. In his 1949 article “Fifty years of Irish Painting”, Thomas McGreevy writes “Kavanagh had a wider range and more solid qualities than Osborne. But neither Henry Allan nor Kavanagh is sufficiently well represented in our public collections for it to be possible to form an adequate estimate of their achievement.” This is likely owing to the total loss of Joseph Kavanagh’s remaining works during the fire at the Abby Street premises of the Royal Hibernian Academy during the rebellion of 1916, where he was serving as Keeper of the RHA with all of his studios and remaining works on hand. As a result, his work is exceedingly rare on the open market. In 1998 during the Sotheby’s London ‘The Irish Sale’, Kavanagh’s 1893 painting “The Cockle Pickers” sold for $ 35,649.
Measurements: 33 7/8” W x 2 1/4” D x 38 3/4” H [frame]; 25” W x 30 1/8” H [canvas]
Light surface grime - would benefit from being cleaned and keyed out in upper right corner (slight buckle); we can arrange this upon request (generally a 4-5 month process). Wear and discoloration to gilding of the frame. Light scattered craquelure. Original lining, no observed restoration under UV.