Nathaniel Grogan, Landscape and Subject Painter

(b. about 1740, d. 1807)

Landscape and Subject Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was born about 1740 in Cork. He began life as an apprentice to his father, a turner and block maker; but his strong taste for art caused him to spend much of his time in teaching himself to draw. His early efforts, drawings in common chalk upon boards—the only materials he could obtain—were sternly discountenanced by his father, whose severity at last drove the young artist from home. He enlisted, and after serving in America and the West Indies returned to Cork and endeavoured to support himself by painting and teaching. He painted landscapes and also did some decorations for houses, including paintings on ceilings, walls and doors at Mount Vernon for Mr. Lane. But it was in humorous subjects, illustrations of Irish country life, that he excelled. Among works of this kind were "The Bantry Bard," "The Itinerant Preacher," "The Cronies," "The Wake," and "The Quoit Players" now in possession of Mr. N. Smyth, Zion Road, Rathgar. His "Irish Fair," painted for Sir R. Kellett, was much praised at the time. A good example of his work, a "Winter Scene with Skaters," was in the collection of Sir Thornley Stoker, and now belongs to Sir Robert Woods of Merrion Square.

In 1782 Grogan contributed four landscapes to the exhibition of the Free Society of Artists in London, and it is probable that he was in London for a short time trying his fortune as an artist. A set of twelve views of the neighbourhood of Cork were drawn and aquatinted by him; also a large plate of "The Country Schoolmaster," and a "Boy with a Bird's Nest." He also etched a few book-plates. A well-known print by him is the "Portrait of Catherine Fitzgerald, Countess of Desmond," after a picture belonging to the Knight of Kerry. This print, a very poorly executed aquatint, was published by Henry Pelham (q.v.) "at Bear Island, June 4, 1806," and dedicated by him to Maurice Fitzgerald, Knight of Kerry. Grogan enjoyed a considerable reputation in Cork; but his art is crude and hardly deserves the encomiums it received. Under more favourable circumstances, and with a proper training, he might have achieved more than a mere local reputation, as he seems to have possessed much natural talent. Grogan resided in a small house on the south side of the Mardyke. He died in 1807, aged 67, and was buried in the church of St. Finnbarr. A number of his pictures, eighteen in all, including a portrait of himself, were in the Cork Exhibition of 1852.

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