John Hogan, Sculptor

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Hogan, John, sculptor, was born at Tallow, in the County of Waterford, in 1800. Shortly after his birth his father, a builder, removed to Cork. His mother, Frances Cox, was great-granddaughter of Sir Richard Cox, the Chancellor. Though the family were in humble circumstances, the tone of their circle was elevated and refined. John was educated for a time at a school in Tallow, and when fourteen was placed in an attorney's office. This position was not congenial; a strong taste for art asserted itself, and much of his time was spent in cutting figures in wood, drawing fancy sketches, and copying architectural designs. Eventually he was engaged by a local firm as draughtsman and carver of models; and with extraordinary industry he employed himself during the next few years in mastering the principles of his art, and attending anatomical lectures.

Some friends were attracted by the young artist's works, and raised sufficient funds to enable him to sojourn at Rome for a few years. The Royal Dublin Society and the Royal Irish Institution contributed towards this expense. Hogan reached Rome on Palm Sunday, 1824, and forthwith set to work in good earnest, attending the schools of St. Luke, studying in the Vatican and Capitol, and modelling in the life academies. His best friend was Signor Gentili, then a lawyer, afterwards a popular Catholic priest and preacher in Dublin. His first piece of merit was "A Shepherd Boy;" his next a "pieta;" followed by "Eve startled at the sight of death," which he finished in marble; a "Drunken Fawn" was next executed, and drew from Thorwaldsen the exclamation: " Ah! you are are a real sculptor — Avete fatto un miracolo."

He returned home in 1829, and received a gratifying reception in Dublin, where the Royal Irish Institution placed its board-room at his disposal for the exhibition of his works, and the Royal Dublin Society awarded him a gold medal. The Carmelites purchased for £400 his "pieta," which now adorns the panel of the high altar of the church in Clarendon-street. Mr. Hogan returned to Italy in high spirits. He completed a "pieta" for Francis-street church; and in 1837 the statue of Bishop Doyle for Carlow Cathedral. The execution of this last work procured for him election as a member of the Society of the Virtuosi of the Pantheon, an honour to which no Irishman had been before raised. Through Lord Morpeth's (the Earl of Carlisle) influence he received the order for the execution of Drummond's statue for £1,200 — which, with his colossal figure of O'Connell, adorns the City Hall in Dublin. His twenty-four years' residence in Rome, from 1824 to 1848, maybe said to have been the happiest period of his life. In 1838, Mr. Hogan married an Italian lady, and became almost naturalized in the country.

The Roman revolution of 1848, to which he was bitterly opposed, impelled him to return home, and he took up his residence in Dublin. The last ten years of his life were saddened by many trials and disappointments; and the change from the glories of Rome to a narrow and uncongenial life in Dublin nearly broke his heart. The rejection of his beautiful model for the Moore statue was in itself a severe blow to a man of his temperament. He was taken ill early in 1858, and died on 27th March, aged 57. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, in the old O'Connell circle, near his friend Gentili. In private life he was a man singularly beloved and esteemed. His biographer says: "His tall, lithe, powerful frame, and his noble head and eagle look were eminently characteristic. He was full of gesture and vivacity, yet withal was simple in manner and direct in speech."

Sources

163. Hogan, John, Memoir in Irish Monthly, July, 1874. (Pamphlet.)

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