Saturday, April 21, 2007

April 22: Evie Hone (1894-1955)

(This one goes out especially for Ruth at Wheelie Catholic.)

Irish artist Eva Sydney "Evie" Hone was born on this date in 1894, in Dublin. She became partly paralyzed at the age of 11 (some sources say it was polio, others say she fell while decorating her church for Easter--maybe both are true). Hone's family sent her with a governess on a trip through Europe, in search of effective treatments, so her teen years were spent in France, England, and Italy. Travel didn't result in a cure, but she did come to love art, and studied at the Westminster School of Art in London (where she met her companion Mainie Jellett (1897-1944), a fellow Irish artist), and later in Paris. It is said that she was drawn to modern art in part because the paralysis meant she was unable to hold a pencil or brush in traditional ways. Together, Hone and Jellett mounted one of the first exhibitions of abstract art in Ireland.

In 1925, Hone entered an Anglican convent in Cornwall, but left the following year to resume painting. In the 1930s, she found herself drawn to religious art, especially to the design of stained glass. She joined a stained glass studio in 1933, and was considered an innovator in the medieval form. She converted to Catholicism in 1937, but created more than a hundred windows for both Catholic and Protestant spaces in Ireland and England, as well as designing commissioned windows on secular themes, for universities and government buildings. She died while attending mass, at the age of 60. In 2005, the National Gallery of Ireland marked the 50th anniversary of her death with a special exhibition and lecture series about her work.

[Image: Hone's "My Four Green Fields" (1939), commissioned by the Department of Industry and Commerce for the Irish government's pavilion at the New York World Trade Fair. It is now installed at a government building in Dublin. It depicts in very intense colors various symbols of Irish culture, including the harp, the shamrock, a sword, crowns...]


Ruth said...

Thanks so much Penny - I thoroughly enjoyed this! (I am trying to envision her dying in Mass on both a spiritual and practical level which is a little mind boggling- and how very Catholic of her!)

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