Even distinguished talents, if they aim at fame or fortune, must not expect to find them in Ireland - the country is too poor, and if it were not poor, there are too few connoisseurs in it to appreciate the merit of a living artist." One of the bright young Irish hopefuls to make the pilgrimage abroad prescribed by this nineteenth century commentator was James Arthur O'Connnor, born in 1792 in Dublin. An ennduringly popular painter, he has been widely regarded as a modestly formiidable talent, with more to his artistic personality than the abundance of piccturesque drawing room decorations for which he is probably best known.
The writer and critic John Hutchinnson, whose M.Litt. thesis was about the painter, was subsequently invited by the director of the National Gallery, Homan Potterton, to select and cataalogue an O'Connor exhibition. The resultant show, which includes eightyyeight works by the painter himself as well as a representative selection drawn from the output of his contemmporaries, can be seen at the National Gallery until the end of December.