Mainie  Jellett  




TWO ELEMENTS, 1924

Mary Harriet Jellett, known as Mainie Jellett (20 April 1897, Dublin – 16 February 1944, Dublin) was an Irish painter whose Decoration (1923) was among the first abstract paintings shown in Ireland when it was exhibited at the Society of Dublin Painters Group Show in 1923. She was the daughter of William Morgan Jellett an MP. Jellett studied at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin. She showed precocious talent as an artist in the impressionist style. However, with her companion Evie Hone, she moved to Paris, where, she was introduced to cubism working under André Lhote and began to explore the possibilities of non-representational art. However Jellett concluded that Lhotes style of abstraction from form was not radical enough and subsequently the two went to study under Albert Gleize whose method began with geometric shapes and introduced rhythm through rotation and translation. After 1921 she and Evie Hone returned to Dublin but for the next decade they continued to spend part of each year in Paris. She was determined to show Ireland the significance of Modern Art, and more importantly, how it connected with ancient Celtic art. She thought that this could lead to a form of spiritual healing. A deeply committed Christian, her paintings, though strictly non-representational, often have religious titles and often resemble icons in tone and palate. In Irish Art, a Concise History Bruce Arnold writes that "Many of her abstracts are built up from a central 'eye' or 'heart' in arcs of colour, help up and together by the rhythm of line and shape, and given depth and intensity - a sense of abstract perspective - by the basic understanding of light and colour" Jellett was an important figure in Irish art history, both as an early proponent of abstract art and as a champion of the modern movement. Her painting was often attacked critically but she proved eloquent in defense of her ideas. Along with Evie Hone, Louis le Brocquy, Jack Hanlon and Norah McGuinness she helped found the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943. She died a year later, aged 47. Mary (Mainie) Harriet Jellett (20 April 1897– 16 February 1944) was an Irish Modernist painter born in Dublin. She studied at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin and the Westminster Technical Institute in London. Walter Sickert who had studied with Degas and . It was here that she met Evie Hone, they became lifelong friends. They travelled to Paris to learn from the cubist painter André Lhote, but Jellett found Lhote’s style of abstraction from form not radical enough. Subsequently they studied with Albert Gleizes, author of Du Cubisme, who’s method began with geometric shapes and introduced rhythm through rotation and translation. Jellett was a deeply committed Christian and her works, though nonrepresentational, allude to religious iconography. On returning to Ireland Jellett hoped to win the Irish public over to modern art as well as to connect this vibrant movement to ancient Celtic art. She believed this could have a healing or spiritually enlivening effect on the Irish people. She exhibited her abstract work Decoration with the Society of Dublin Painters Group Show in 1923. It was misunderstood and ridiculed by many. Jellett was made the founding chairperson of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943. She passed away in the subsequent year.


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