Cork (Provincial Societies and Schools of Art)

(Provincial Societies and Schools of Art)

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Hincks, minister of the dissenting congregation in Cork, and principal of a private school, had for several years entertained a wish to found an institution similar to that of the Dublin Society. He at length succeeded by means of private subscriptions in fitting up a lecture room, and inaugurated courses of lectures upon the sciences, experimental philosophy, chemistry, botany and agriculture. Through the support of Sir John Newport, Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, a charter was obtained, dated 31st January, 1808, establishing The Cork Institute. The old Custom House was acquired for the purposes of the Institute, and assistance was given by the Dublin Society, which presented duplicates of some of the things in its Museum and Laboratory.

The success attending the efforts of the Royal Irish Institution in creating an interest in art in Ireland, encouraged the artists and amateurs in Cork, who, in 1815, opened "The First Munster Exhibition" of pictures and drawings in Dean's Buildings, South Mall. In February, 1816, they formed The Cork Society for promoting the Fine Arts, and they built a gallery in Patrick Street, where seven annual exhibitions of works of the old masters and of contemporary Cork artists were held. In 1818 the Prince Regent became Patron of the Society, and through the influence of Lord Ennismore, afterwards Earl of Listowel, who had taken an active part in founding the Society, he presented a series of 115 casts from the most celebrated statues in Rome which had been taken under the direction of Canova, and had been given by the Pope to George III. The collection was placed in the Cork Institute, and its acquisition gave a considerable impetus to the study of art in Cork, and a teaching school was formed in the Institute. William Chalmers appears to have been the first instructor employed, and Samuel Forde also taught there for a time; little, however, can now be recovered concerning this forerunner of the regular School of Art afterwards established.

In 1849 some of the leading citizens of Cork approached the Board of Trade for a grant to establish a School of Design in the city. They were successful; and in September William Willes was appointed head master, with J. P. Knight as second master, and the school was publicly inaugurated in the Cork Institution on the 7th January, 1850. Willes held his appointment for only a year, as he died in January, 1851; but during his short tenure of office he laid the foundation of the school's subsequent success. He was succeeded by R. R. Scanlan. The school was supported by an annual grant from the Corporation and one of £500, subsequently reduced, from Parliament. In 1854, in consequence of the withdrawal of the Government grant as well as that of the Corporation, owing to doubts as to the legality of the allocation of civic funds for the purpose, the school was closed; but in 1855 an Act of Parliament authorized a tax of a penny in the pound for public libraries and a School of Art. The school was accordingly re-opened on the 8th January, 1856, with D. Raimbach as head master. With him was associated Edward Sheil as second master, who, on Raimbach's resignation in 1857, succeeded to the head-mastership. After Sheil's resignation in 1860 T. F. Collier held the post for a few months, and was succeeded in the same year by James Brenan, who presided successfully over the school for nearly thirty years, until his transfer to the Dublin School in 1889. The present head master, W. A. Mulligan, was appointed in 1890.

In 1885 the old building was replaced by the present fine edifice in Emmett Place, built at the expense of £20,000 by W. H. Crawford, and opened as the Crawford Science and Art Schools.

Succession of Masters

1849. William Willes, Head Master. Died January, 1851. J. P. Knight, Second Master.

1853. R. R. Scanlan, Head Master. T. F. Collier, Second Master.

1854-56. School closed.

1856. David W. Raimbach, Head Master.

1857. Edward Sheil, Second Master.

1859. Edward Sheil, Head Master.

1860. T. F. Collier, Head Master.

1860. James Brenan, Head Master.

1890. W. A. Mulligan, Head Master.

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