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Roderic O'Conor (17 October 1860 – 18 March 1940) was an Irish painter who spent much of his later career in Paris and as part of the Pont-Aven movement. O'Conor's work demonstrates Impressionist and Post-Impressionist influence.[1]

Roderic O'Conor
Self portrait (c. 1923–1926)
Self portrait (c. 1923–1926)
Born17 October 1860
Died18 March 1940
EducationMetropolitan School of Art (Dublin), Royal Hibernian Academy (Dublin), Ampleforth College (Yorkshire), Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts (Antwerp)
Known forPainter, etcher


Early life and trainingEdit

Born in Milltown, Castleplunket, County Roscommon, Ireland,[1] O'Conor attended the Metropolitan School and Royal Hibernian Academy early in his career.[2] His father, Roderic Joseph O'Conor, acted as a justice of the peace and was appointed high sheriff of the county in 1863. His mother, Eleanor Mary, was brought up in a landowning family from Co Meath. The family relocated to Dublin when O'Conor was still a child.[3] He studied at Ampleforth College, and like his classmate, Richard Moynan, travelled to Antwerp before moving to Paris to gain further experience.[4][5] While in France, he was influenced by the Impressionists.

Works and legacyEdit

In 1892 O'Conor went to Pont-Aven in Brittany where he worked closely with a group of artists around the Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin, whom he befriended.[1] His method of painting with textured strokes of contrasting colours also owed much to Van Gogh. His nephew, Patrick O'Connor (1909–97), was also a painter as well as a sculptor.

O'Conor died in Nueil-sur-Layon, France in March 1940.[1]

In March 2011 a work by O'Conor sold for £337,250 (€383,993). Landscape, Cassis, an oil-on-canvas, was painted by O'Conor in the south of France in 1913 and sold at Sotheby's for significantly higher than the estimate price.[6]

Relationship with Somerset MaughamEdit

In the early twentieth century, O'Conor was one of a group of painters, writers and intellectuals who frequented the Chat Blanc, a restaurant in the rue d'Odessa near the Gare Montparnasse in Paris, a group that included Gerald Kelly, Aleister Crowley and the young Somerset Maugham. O'Conor "took an immediate dislike to Maugham, who later recalled that his presence at the table seemed to irritate the Irishman and he had only to venture a remark to have O'Conor attack it."[7] Maugham had his revenge on O'Conor by using him as the basis for two fictional characters, O'Brien in The Magician and Clutton in Of Human Bondage. Both portraits are unflattering: O'Brien is "a failure whose bitterness has warped his soul so that, unforgiving of the success of others, he lashes out at any artist of talent", while Clutton is "a sardonic painter who is most cheerful when he can find a victim for his sarcasm".[8] However, it was through O'Conor that Maugham first became interested in Gauguin (Maugham traveled to Tahiti and based his novel The Moon and Sixpence on the life of Gaugin).[9]

Works in collectionsEdit



  1. ^ a b c d "Roderic O'Conor - Biography". Milmo-Penny Fine Art. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Roderic O'Conor Biography". Tate Institution. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  3. ^ Dunne, Aidan (7 July 2018). "Roderic O'Conor: Ireland's great forgotten painter". Irish Times. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  4. ^ Campbell, Julian (1984). The Irish Impressionists, Irish Artists in France and Belgium 1850-1914. National Gallery of Ireland. ISBN 0-903162-17-2.
  5. ^ "Irish Paris > Artists > Roderic O'Conor".
  6. ^ "Landscape, Cassis by Roderic O'Conor". Sothebys. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  7. ^ Robert Calder, Willie: the life of W. Somerset Maugham, p. 90
  8. ^ Robert Calder, Willie: the life of W. Somerset Maugham, p. 90
  9. ^ Robert Calder, Willie: the life of W. Somerset Maugham, p. 136

Further readingEdit

  • Jonathan Benington: Roderic O'Conor: a biography with a catalogue of his works. Irish Academic Press, Dublin 1992, ISBN 978-0-71652-492-2