John Hogan, Sculptor

(b. 1800, d. 1858)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

John Hogan. Indian ink drawing, by B. Mulrenin; in National Gallery of Ireland.

His father, John Hogan, a carpenter and builder of Cove Street, Cork, was employed about 1795 by Richard Gumbleton of Castle Richard, near Tallow, Co. Waterford, in some building work. There he met a Miss Frances Cox, of Dunmanway, a great granddaughter of Sir Richard Cox, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and in 1796 he married her in spite of the disapproval of her family, who considered the match as a mésalliance and deprived her of her fortune of two thousand pounds. The third child of this marriage was John Hogan, the future sculptor, who was born at Tallow on the 14th October, 1800. At the age of about 14 he was placed in the office of Michael Foote, an attorney in Patrick Street, Cork. He did not find the work of a lawyer's clerk congenial to him, and he spent much of his time in carving figures in wood and copying architectural designs. At the end of two years he was apprenticed to Thomas Deane, builder and architect, where he at first worked as a carpenter, and occupied his leisure hours in indulging his natural inclination for drawing and carving. Deane then employed him at 13s. a week in drawing plans and in carving balusters, capitals, and ornamental figures in connection with his building business.

At the end of the year 1819 he carved a full-sized skeleton in pinewood, finished with extraordinary accuracy. His apprenticeship expired in March, 1820, and, encouraged by Deane, he applied himself to sculpture with the view of making it his profession. He attended lectures on anatomy given by Dr. Woodroffe, and in the course or three years acquired a thorough knowledge of the structure of the human form. He also assiduously copied the casts of classic statuary in the Gallery of the Cork Society of Arts. During this period he executed in wood several anatomical studies of feet, legs and hands, a head of an Apostle, a copy of Michel Angelo's Mask of Moses, and some groups in bas-relief after designs by James Barry. He also did a copy of "Silenus and Satyrs," and a model of a Roman soldier, in stone, and the "Triumph of Silenus," a bas-relief in wood, intended as an ornament for the back of a sideboard, consisting of fifteen figures about fourteen inches high. His first work to attract public notice was a life-sized figure of "Minerva" for an insurance office in the South Mall built by Deane. Late in the year 1821 he was employed by Dr. Murphy, Bishop of Cork, in the carving of twenty-seven statues in wood for the North Chapel in Cork, and a bas-relief panel of "The Last Supper," after Leonardo da Vinci, for the altar. This work kept him in employment for about a year.

In August, 1823, William Paulet Carey (q.v.) paid a visit to Cork, and saw in the Gallery of the Society of Arts a small torso carved in pine, which struck him by its correctness in design and execution. On inquiry he found it was the work of Hogan. He sought an interview, and was astonished at the work the young artist showed him, and recognized the genius which only wanted opportunities for development. He immediately inserted letters in the "Cork Advertiser" asking for subscriptions to enable Hogan to go to Italy for study. But these letters produced no response, and Carey then brought the case of the young self-taught sculptor to the notice of Sir John Fleming Leicester—afterwards Lord De Tabley—sending him specimens of Hogan's work.

Lord De Tabley sent a donation of £25 and a commission for a marble statue of a female figure. This was soon followed by other subscriptions; the Dublin Society gave £100, and purchased for £25 the specimens or Hogan's wood-carvings which are now in the National Museum, Kildare Street: a hand and arm, a hand holding a sword, a mask of Moses, after Michel Angelo, a leg of Mercury, and an anatomical arm. In November, 1823, the subscriptions having reached £250, Hogan left Cork for Dublin, and there embarked for Liverpool on his way to Italy. He arrived in Rome early in 1824, and lost no time in commencing his studies. He attended the Schools of St. Luke and worked in the Galleries of the Vatican and the Capitol; but his means, which were barely sufficient for his support, did not permit of his taking a studio.

In October and November, 1825, Elizabeth Sheridan Carey, daughter of William Paulet Carey, contributed a memoir of Hogan to "Ackermann's Repository," and called the attention of the public to the young sculptor's critical situation in Rome, where he found his means inadequate to the rent of a studio, the purchase of marble and the expense of a living model. In response to this appeal Lord De Tabley sent a second subscription of £25. Further subscriptions followed, including £25 from the Royal Irish Institution, and Hogan was thus enabled to continue his work in Rome, to secure a studio and to commence the marble statue commissioned by Lord De Tabley. This was a life-sized figure of "Eve." Just after it was finished and had been despatched to England the sculptor's patron died, and the statue remained in its packing-case until 1857, when it was first seen at the Manchester Exhibition. His first finished work was an "Italian Shepherd Boy," which was followed by his "Drunken Faun," a bas-relief of a "Dead Christ at the foot of the Cross," which Hogan hoped to cut in marble for Cork, and another figure of a "Dead Christ." All these works were modelled with much spirit and force, and the talent and power of the young Irish sculptor were recognized by Gibson, Thorwaldsen and other artists in Rome. Thorwaldsen, when leaving Rome and taking leave of Hogan, said to him: "My son, you are the best sculptor I leave after me in Rome."

In November, 1829, Hogan paid a visit to Ireland, taking with him several of his works, the "Drunken Faun," the "Dead Christ," and several busts and statues in plaster. The Royal Irish Art Union placed its boardroom at his disposal for the exhibition of these works, and the Dublin Society gave him its gold medal. The "Dead Christ" was sold to the Carmelite community in Clarendon Street. On his return to Italy in 1829, he began the cutting of his "Dead Christ" for Cork, and modelled the "Pieta" for Francis Street Church. A monumental group to the memory of Bishop Doyle was completed and brought to Dublin in 1840, and was exhibited for a few months in the Royal Exchange. While in Dublin he received a commission for a statue of Thomas Drummond, which he finished in 1843.

In 1837 Hogan was elected a member of the Virtuosi del Pantheon, a society founded in 1500, to which no British subject had hitherto belonged—an honour he was intensely proud of. In 1838 he married an Italian lady, Cornelia Bevignani.

During the next few years he had several important works in hand—"Hibernia" for Lord Cloncurry, "O'Connell" for the Repeal Association, "William Crawford" for Cork, and other statues and busts. His twenty-four years' residence in Rome was brought to a termination in 1848, when, owing to the revolutionary movement, he left Italy and returned with his wife and family to Ireland. His arrival was at a time inauspicious for an artist full of enthusiasm and anxious to work at his profession; the effects of the famine years had not passed away, there was little patronage of art, and Hogan found himself compelled to live in a most uncongenial atmosphere with little or no work to do. Gradually his prospects improved; he received orders for statues of Father Mathew for Cork, O'Connell for Limerick, and Thomas Davis; as also work for St. John's Cathedral, Newfoundland. He submitted models for the projected statue of Moore, but these were rejected—or indeed never seriously considered—and the work given, through ignorance and jobbery, to an inferior artist. Hogan's sensitive nature keenly felt the treatment he had been subject to, but while it is impossible to condone or defend the action of those who contemptuously ignored the claim of the only sculptor of eminence then in Ireland, it was perhaps partly brought about by the nature of the man himself. His impatience of ignorance, and his intolerance of professional inferiority, his independence, and perhaps too his religion—or rather a certain aggressiveness in asserting it—made him unpopular. He held aloof too from his brother artists, refusing membership of the Hibernian Academy.

For a year before his death his health began to fail, and he gradually found himself unable to work.

A few days before his death he left his bed and stole down to his studio to look at his unfinished works. To his assistants, his son John V. Hogan and James Cahill, who were working at a marble, he said: "Finish it well, boys, I shall never handle the chisel more." He died in his house, No. 14 Wentworth Place, on 27th March, 1858, and was buried at Glasnevin, where his grave is marked with a plain slab, on which the single word HOGAN is inscribed.

His widow was granted a pension of £100 a year in 1858.

Hogan was not a frequent exhibitor. He sent a bust of Father Mathew from Rome to the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1844, and exhibited a few of his works there, between 1850 and 1854. He also sent works to the Royal Academy in 1833 and 1850.

His son, John Valentine Hogan, assisted him in his studio and finished some of his uncompleted works, including "The Transfiguration," which appeared in the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1878. He is now following his profession in Rome.

A portrait of John Hogan, drawn in Indian ink by B. Mulrenin, is in the National Gallery of Ireland; an etching, after a drawing by C. Grey, is in Vol. XXXV of the "Dublin University Magazine" for 1850, and a wood-cut in the "Art Journal" in the same year.

Hogan's chief works are:

William Beamish, of Beaumont, Cork. Bust, in alto-relievo. [Blackrock Church, near Cork.]

John Brinkley, Bishop of Cloyne. Statue. [Trinity College, Dublin.]

John Brinkley, Bishop of Cloyne. Monument. [Cloyne Cathedral.]

Bishop Collins. Monument in relief. [Skibbereen.]

Daniel Corbet, Marble bust. [W. Corbet, Cork.] R.H.A., 1860.

William Crawford. Statue. [Savings Bank, Cork.]

Davis, Thomas O. Statue. [Mortuary Chapel, Mount Jerome Cemetery.] In 1845, after Davis's death, a committee was formed to collect subscriptions for a monument to him. Hogan was entrusted with the work and had it ready in 1853, and it was shown in the R.H.A. and in the Dublin Society's exhibition of this year. At the close of the exhibition, no site having been provided for it in the city, it was sent by Sir William Wilde, one of the members of the original committee, to Mount Jerome Cemetery, where until lately it stood upon a grass plot near the chapel. It has lately been moved into the mortuary chapel.

John Doyle, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. Statue. [Carlow Cathedral.] Done in Rome, and finished and brought to Ireland in 1840.

Thomas Drummond, Under Secretary. Bronze statue. [City Hall, Dublin.] Commissioned in 1840; finished in 1843.

James Grattan. Bust. [Maryborough Infirmary.]

Robert Graves, M.D. Bust. [Royal College of Physicians, Kildare Street.] R.H.A., 1854.

Samuel Kyle, Bishop of Cork. Bust.

Father Macnamara. Monumental effigy.

Rev. Theobald Mathew. [H. J. Maguire, Anglesea Road, Donnybrook.] R.H.A., 1844.

Rev. Theobald Mathew. Done in 1840. R.A., 1850.

Daniel O'Connell. Statue. [City Hall, Dublin.] Done in Rome for the Repeal Association. Erected in 1846.

Daniel O'Connell. Statue. [Limerick.]

Daniel O'Connell. Bust. R.A., 1850.

"Father Prout." Bust.

Peter Purcell, founder of the Agricultural Society of Ireland. Mural Monument. R.A., 1850.

James Spring. Monument, a kneeling angel over his vault in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Thomas Steele. Bust, R.H.A., 1851.

Italian Shepherd Boy. The sculptor's first work done in Rome.

Shepherd Boy. R.H.A., 1850. Dublin Ex., 1861.

Eve, after her expulsion from Paradise, her first sight of Death; founded on a passage from Gessner's "Death of Abel." Executed in marble, in Rome, for Lord De Tabley. Manchester Ex., 1857.

The Dead Christ. [Clarendon Street Church.] Done in Rome. Bought in 1829 by the Carmelite community, Clarendon Street, for £400.

The Dead Christ. [Cork.] Done in Rome in 1829. Cork Ex., 1852.

A Pieta. [Francis Street Church, Dublin.] In plaster.

A Pieta. The Virgin weeping over the dead Christ. Alto-relievo. [Rathfarnham Convent.]

Hibernia supporting a bust of Lord Cloncurry. [ Lord Cloncurry, Lyons.] Cork Ex., 1852.

Hibernia and Brian Boru. Model in Cork. Not executed in marble.

A Grecian Shepherd. Cork Ex., 1852.

The Drunken Faun. Done in Rome.

The young Augustus. [John Sweetman, Kells.]

Head, intended to represent Erin in a symbolical group—a likeness of his wife. Original model in Rathfarnham Convent; a cast in the National Museum, Kildare Street.

The Transfiguration. Finished by John Valentine Hogan, and ex. in R.H.A., 1878.

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