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Stanley Pettigrew b.1927

Photograph of a painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew  

A Lake in the Maam Valley, Connemara,
Leckavreas and Maumwees in the Distance

Oil on canvas laid on board, 20 x 30 inches. Signed by the artist SOLD

We are very fortunate to have a Gallery Artist of the strength and calibre of Stanley Pettigrew. An open air painter who works in a traditional style, he paints a sky as majestically as Nathaniel Hone and a landscape as alluring as James Humbert  Craig. Stanley was born in the Andes in Chile in 1927, the son of a mining engineer whose Scottish family had settled in Sligo a generation earlier. His mother was a Blennerhassett from Tralee. The family returned to Ireland in 1930 when he was three years old. His ancestry traces back to the Huguenots, driven out of France in the sixteenth century. One of his more famous ancestors is Professor James Bell Pettigrew, a pioneer of the theory of flight who wrote and illustrated many books on the subject. There is a museum dedicated to his memory in St. Andrew's University, Scotland. Another remarkable ancestor is Henry Bell, who invented 'The Comet', the first steam ship known to man. 

Photograph of a painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew

Galway Hooker on Roundstone Bay, Connemara,
Twelve Benns in the Background

Oil on canvas laid on board, 20 x 30 inches. Signed by the artist SOLD

Stanley went to school in Sligo, and in the early days took a keen interest in carpentry. However, it was during the summer holidays, when he was about fourteen years of age, that he met the man who changed his interests completely. This was Jim Heuston; an extremely colourful character, who had been twice imprisoned during the turmoil of 1916 and 1922. He was working as a sign painter in Sligo and had developed an interest in landscape painting by the early 1940s. He encouraged Stanley to accompany him on his expeditions and so began a painting career which continues to this day. During these journeys around the Yeats Country, his great love of the open countryside was born. In common with many other artists who had gone before him, and Paul Henry in particular, he was fascinated by the massive cloud formations and their reflection on water. During the war years and later, he met many other artists who came to Sligo to paint the western landscape.

Photograph of a painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew

Galway Hooker Crossing Bertraghboy Bay, Connemara

 Oil on canvas laid on board, 20 x 36 inches. Signed by the artist SOLD

In 1944 he entered Trinity College, Dublin, firstly to read history and then, at a later stage, divinity. At this time, he met Tom Nisbet in Dublin, who encouraged him to continue his painting career. On leaving Trinity, he was sent as a curate to Newcastle, County Down. This gave him the opportunity to paint in the Mourne Mountains with Tom Carr. His holidays were spent in Sligo and it was there that he met Vera Brownell, also of Huguenot extraction, whom he married in Killiney in 1954. She is well known for her children's books. He has lived in Wicklow since 1957, where every spare moment is spent in the portrayal of its magnificent landscapes and waterways. Since 1962 he has been based in Wicklow Town from where he sets sail upriver in his small boat at sunrise to capture the beauty of the countryside. During the 1970s and 1980s Stanley Pettigrew exhibited his paintings at an annual show in the Wicklow Painters Gallery. He was also a regular exhibitor at the Royal Hibernian Academy. During the 1990s Milmo-Penny Fine Art hosted a series of exhibitions of his work, each one of which was sold out.

Photograph of a Connemara painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew.

Covering a Pool on the Ballynahinch River, Connemara

Oil on canvas laid on board, 20 x 30 inches. Signed by the artist
Price: €6,850.

The strength in his work may be found in the influences of the artists who have gone before him. These influences trace back through Henry and Hone, through Corot, Millet and Constable, through Claude and Poussin, and continue back to the founders of landscape painting, the great Venetians, Bellini, Giorgione and Titian. Irish art of the late 19th century grew from roots established in the local schools and academies of Dublin, Cork and Belfast. However, the development of such a strong tradition owes more to the academies and studios of Britain, France, Belgium and Italy. Besides the strong influences of the atelier system, the students had the opportunity to exchange ideas with the most important emerging artists of the day. The process extended to the artist colonies, centred on small remote towns and villages, where painters from every corner of the world assembled. Very often, these associations had far more impact on the emerging artist than the instruction of their masters. One of the most famous of these locations is small Breton village of Pont-Aven. An exhibition of Irish artists working in Brittany was held in the Musée de Pont-Aven in 1999, which gives a good insight into the life of these painters. Another popular destination for Irish artists was the historic port of Concarneau. Many of the smaller villages such at Le Pouldu also attracted a number of Irish artists, who were also found painting in Quimperlé and ports such as Cancale and Honfleur.

Photograph of a Connemara painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew.

The Benns from Roundstone Bay, Connemara

Oil on canvas laid on board, 16 x 24 inches. Signed by the artist
Price: €5,500.

Following the development of the French railway system, an important group of painters assembled around Millet in the tiny hamlet of Barbizon, in the forest of Fontainebleau. Nathaniel Hone moved there around 1857, staying at first in Barbizon and then at the small village of Bourron-Marlotte. His Barbizon career spread over a period of fifteen years. Close by, Grez-sur-Loing also became popular with French, American, Scandinavian and Irish artists, with Frank O’Meara as a leading figure. Roderic O’Conor also painted there and in the nearby village of Montigny. Another Irish artist, John Lavery, painted some fine works along the river at Grez and in the forest, where he painted the delightful work On the Road to Fontainebleau in 1884.

Photograph of a Connemara painting by the Irish artist Stanley Pettigrew.

Early Morning Light
Cashel Mountain and the Benns, Connemara

Oil on canvas laid on board, 16 x 24 inches. Signed by the artist
Price: €4,250.

Although no formal colonies were established, during their time at the Academy, many Irish artists worked in the countryside surrounding Antwerp, often within small groups of friends. Amongst the most notable of these Irish artists were Roderic O'Conor, Nathaniel Hill, Norman Garstin, Stanhope Forbes, Richard Thomas Moynan and Joseph Malachy Kavanagh. Walter Osborne was also amongst this group. A Flemish Farmstead is a good example of the many fine works he produced there. Many of these artists eventually found their way to England where the Newlyn School was established. Two Irish artists, Forbes and Garstin, were amongst the leading founders. Many other Irish artists painted in Newlyn, mostly staying for short visits. Harry Scully was amongst them by 1894, having followed the familiar path through France and Holland. Good examples of Newlyn painting by William Banks Fortescue and Fred Hall can be found on these links. Many other coastal destinations such as Hastings, Rye and the Devon Coast became popular locations for Irish artists such as Walter Osborne and Augustus Nicholas Burke. Together with Nathaniel Hill, they were also found painting in another colony in the picturesque fishing village of Walberswick on the Suffolk coast.  

Photograph of a Connemara painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew.

Amongst the Benns, Clifden, Connemara

 Oil on canvas laid on board, 16 x 20 inches. Signed by the artist
Price: €3,850.

Only a handful of the Irish artists who painted in these colonies have been mentioned here. It is surprising that no Irish equivalent of Pont-Aven or Newlyn was established by any of these artists when they returned home, especially when we consider the subject matter on their doorstep. However, a survey of the development of Irish art at the turn of the century suggests that a distinctive Irish School was born out of the overseas colonies of the previous century. It may have escaped a School tag because it was not centred in any one location but spread along the entire Western seaboard stretching from North Donegal to West Cork. Walter Osborne found great inspiration in the West although this aspect of his work is often overlooked. This situation should change, thanks to publication of a comprehensive survey of Osborne’s work in the West by Dr. Julian Campbell.

Photograph of a painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew

Pucan Crossing Maumwee Lake, Calla, Connemara

Oil on canvas laid on board, 20 x 30 inches. Signed by the artist
Price: €6,850.

There is little doubt that the inspiration found in the splendid isolation along the entire coast was the core value exploited by the many Irish artists who found their way there. It is heartening to know that the tradition continues to this day. Small groups have formed in remote areas such as Allihies in West Cork, which has become an established centre for many painters, engravers, potters and sculptors. Achill Island, off the Mayo coast, was made famous by the paintings of Paul Henry. If any one artist can be singled out, it is Henry who discovered the richness of the West of Ireland as a painting ground. Paradoxically, Henry is almost unique amongst his contemporaries as an artist who did not spend any significant part of his career painting overseas. However, he was influenced by Whistler at the Académie Carmen in Paris. The simplistic approach to colouring advanced by Whistler is evident in his work and significant in the development of his style.

Photo of a painting by Stanley Pettigrew

Wicklow Golf Links from Travailahawk Strand

Oil on canvas laid on board, 16 x 24 inches. Signed by the artist
Price: €2,850.

A great many paintings have passed from Stanley’s studio to our galleries over the years and each and every one of them comes with a story. Every three years or so Stanley sets out to paint the morning light as it rises over Wicklow Golf Club. This happens only in the middle of February and in 1997, when he painted this particular version, it was extremely cold at that hour; so much so that the brush fell from his hand on a number of occasions as he lost the ability to hold on to it. Nevertheless, his spirit won out and the end result was a painting so full of control and confidence, it is hard to believe it was painted under such severe conditions. The painting is a very good example of Stanley’s modern style and shows a masterful control of colour harmony and balance. A myriad of blues and sea greens are reflected in the sky, which is painted in Stanley’s familiar Impressionist manner. The winter greens of the distant golf links are cleverly linked to the foreground by a sparse hint of greenery, which creeps down to the face of the cliffs.

Photograph of a painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew.

Towards Wicklow Head from Brittas Bay

Oil on canvas laid on board, 20 x 30 inches. Signed by the artist
Price: €2,850.

The dramatic landscape and extensive scenery of the western region became popular with many painters who followed Henry’s lead. Among these were artists such as James Humbert Craig, Frank McKelvey, and Maurice Wilks. These in turn had an influence over Tom Nisbet and Tom Carr who in turn inspired Stanley in his work. He becomes a different painter on his annual visits to the West, where he is moved to paint the landscape with the vigour of the great masters who have gone before him. He is enthralled by the wilderness and unspoilt nature of Connemara, with its spectacular hilltops, waterways and islands.  

Photograph of a painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew.

Winter on the Murrough Lakes, Wicklow

Oil on canvas laid on board, 20 x 30 inches. Signed by the artist
Price: €2,850.

Wherever he sets up his easel, Stanley is conscious of a design in nature as he works. "When painting a landscape, I always start with the sky. The sky influences everything beneath it. It determines the mood of the landscape, whether sad or happy, sparkling or wistful. The colours I mix for the sky I retain in my brushes, only deepening them in tones for the shadows across mountains or the dancing lights on water. Even the leaves of trees have a reflection of the sky colour. This unity of sky and landscape underlies a far deeper unity in nature.

There is an immense design and pattern in nature. Tides ebb and flow according to schedule. Spring, summer, autumn and winter come back in unwavering succession. The planets never leave their courses, the same cause always produces the same effect. The spiral shape of the minutest shell on the sea shore is echoed in the spiral formation in crystals, in the spiral arrangements of nebulae, the spiral in the seeds of plants, the horns of animals, the bones and muscles of the human body, the curving shape of birds feathers, the trunk and branches of a tree. Purposeful design is to be found in every part of the natural world, organic and inorganic and in outer space. Purpose and plan necessarily imply a mind, and so we reach God.

Facing this immense design in nature, which is ceaselessly unfolding before our eyes, there is but one approach - awe, wonder, reverence, humility, and joy.

'Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . When the morning stars sang together. And all the sons of God shouted for joy?' "

Photograph of a painting by the Irish artist, Stanley Pettigrew.

In the Heart of the Wicklow Mountains,
a Bend on the Glenmacnass River

Oil on canvas laid on board, 20 x 28 inches. Signed by the artist
Price: €2,450.

Paintings from Wicklow, Connemara and the West of Ireland are available for viewing by appointment or by email. Please contact 'dominic at mpfa dot ie' if you would like to search for your favourite view. As the canvas is laid on board, these paintings are robust and suitable for shipping worldwide.

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Tel. # 353 1 269 3486 - Email 'art at mpfa.ie'

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