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Self-Portraiture and Allegory in the Paintings of Seán Keating, 1915–50

  • Author / Creator
    Goddard, Brandi S
  • In 1915, Ireland was on the brink of the revolutionary Easter Rising. By 1949, the nation was officially declared a republic, no longer part of the British Commonwealth. These years flank the creation of five paintings by the Irish artist Seán Keating in which the painter has included his own portrait within the various scenes. These paintings, as allegorical self-portraits, allow for a diachronic construction of an artistic identity based on the visual figure’s position vis-a-vis the dominant ideology of the period. Keating’s self-portraits transition from violent nationalist in Men of the West through a period of revolutionary disavowal and a flirtation with socialism in An Allegory and Night’s Candles are Burnt Out respectively. Finally, Ulysses in Connemara and Economic Pressure, or a Bold Peasant Being Destroyed exhibit the artist in the role of an emigrant forced to leave Ireland due to lack of economic and social opportunities. Utilizing Louis Althusser’s theory of art and ideology from A Letter on Art in Reply to André Daspre, this thesis argues that Keating’s inclusion of his likeness within these five paintings may be understood as a visual commentary on the shifting and tumultuous ideological state of affairs in Ireland during the first half of the twentieth century.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2016-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3959CJ8C
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Art and Design
  • Specialization
    • History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Greer, Joan (Art and Design)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Brazeau, Robert (English and Film Studies)
    • Boone, Betsy (Art and Design)