Amelia Curran, Amateur

(b. 1775, d. 1847)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Eldest child of John Philpot Curran, was born in her father's house in Redmond's Hill, Dublin, in 1775.

About the year 1818 she went to Italy, where she eked out a slender income by copying old Masters and painting portraits. In April, 1818, she met the Shelleys in Rome and commenced a portrait of the poet; but the Shelleys leaving Rome abruptly in June, on the death of one of their children, the portrait—a half-length for which only one sitting was given—was unfinished and remained in Miss Curran's hands. Miss Curran, writing of this portrait to Mrs. Shelley in 1822, says "it was so ill-done and I was on the point of burning it with others before I left Italy." After Shelley's death his widow applied for it and it was sent to her in 1825. The portrait remained in the possession of the family until 1898 when it became the property of the National Portrait Gallery, London. Miss Curran was living in Naples in 1821 and 1822, and there became a Roman Catholic. Richard Robert Madden, who met her in Naples about this time, describes her as being "in bad health, labouring occasionally under hypochondriasis, and at periods, when this disorder depressed her spirits severely, she used to sit in her drawing-room with the windows closed and all light excluded for many days and at times even for weeks together. She was mild, gentle, and amiable, notwithstanding these fits of melancholy." She afterwards returned to Rome, where she spent the rest of her life. She died in 1847. Her funeral oration was preached by Father (afterwards Cardinal) J. H. Newman. Lord Cloncurry, in a letter to Hogan the Sculptor, dated Maretimo, Dublin, 18th September, 1847, writes: "Amelia Curran has paid the debt of nature in the Eternal City. She was the most witty and agreeable woman I ever knew, full of talent and kindness; a musician, a painter, and a writer. I loved and respected her sincerely. I wish some memorial of her to be placed in the church of St. Isidore at an expense not exceeding fifty pounds, which if you undertake you will enhance my obligations to you." Accordingly, Hogan designed and executed a memorial tablet which was put up in St. Isidore's the following year. It bears the following inscription from the pen of Lord Cloncurry:

Amelia Curran
was the most talented and virtuous daughter of
John Philpot Curran,
who fearlessly pleaded the cause of his country and his
oppressed fellow-citizens before corrupt judges
and hostile juries.
They were true patriots.
To their memory this tablet is inscribed by their
surviving friend Valentine second
Lord Cloncurry.

A "Madonna," a copy after Murillo, done by Miss Curran, was presented by Lord Cloncurry to the Rev. John Ennis for the Catholic Chapel at Blackrock, County Dublin, on the occasion of its opening in 1842.

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