Irish Rural Interiors in Art


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Claudia Kinmonth

View Inside Format: Cloth
Price: $65.00
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This book offers a fascinating view of many aspects of Irish rural life from the eighteenth to the mid twentieth century. Illustrated with more than 250 images, many of which have not been published before, the book evokes the hardships and celebrations of laborers and farmers, men and women, the old and the young as depicted in oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, postcards, and cartoons. Most of the illustrations show people engaged in indoor activities at home, but schools, shops, pubs, and doctors’ surgeries are also included. Claudia Kinmonth draws on extensive knowledge of the material culture of rural life to present a new social history of Irish country people.
Working within a broadly chronological framework, the author addresses such themes and patterns of rural life as the architecture of houses, where people slept, cooking over the open hearth, rural dress, display, childcare, work within the home, the arrangement of marriages, weddings, wakes, and celebrations. The book also explores why Irish and foreign artists depicted rural interiors and sets their work in the context of art history.

Exhibition Schedule:

Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork City, S. Ireland (May 6–August 26, 2006)

Claudia Kinmonth is an independent cultural historian and former researcher in the Furniture Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum. She is the author of the award-winning Irish Country Furniture, 1700-1950, published by Yale University Press.


Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork City, S. Ireland (May 6–August 26, 2006)

“…guaranteed to give the Irish a sense of themselves through paintings which reflect their homes and customs. … In paintings [Kinmonth] analyses the context of the scene, tells stories and takes the reader through all the paintings in her book. She can find a society’s entire cultural heritage in just one painting.” - Marlene Lyng, The Sunday Tribune

“It is a measure of how diligent Kinmonth has been in her research that most of the images have never been published before. … Irish Rural Interiors is a magnificently produced book. With more than 250 images, it offers a comprehensive look at Irish art from the 19th century, and also well into the 20th century. Kinmonth has also researched and written an elegant chapter of social history on the subjects covered in the book. Like Kinmonth’s previous book…Irish Rural Interiors in Art will undoubtedly become the defining text on what has, until now, been a criminally neglected subject.” - Marc O’Sullivan, Irish Examiner

“[A] valuable book of visual and social documentation. It has been meticulously researched with many of the illustrations brought to a wider audience for the first time. It is wonderful to look at and sure to stand as a stalwart visual and documentary contribution to Irish social history.” - Regina Sexton, Irish Examiner

“[The] visual material that the author has unearthed is of considerable importance. … One of the most compelling aspects of the commentary is the author’s sharp eye for detail. … Both the visual and the historical material presented here will constitute a valuable resource for students and academics… The broad range of art works beautifully reproduced here is a visual treat which, together with Kinmonth’s text, succeeds in developing a vivid and fully rounded vista into both the privations and the joys of life in rural Ireland during this period.” - Annette Wickham, Irish Arts Review

“Unstinting in its use of fine and decent-sized colour reproductions… This is a book of scholarship in both art and sociology. The author obviously enjoyed it, and the book will give great pleasure as well as interesting lights on our cultural history to anyone for a fair price.” - Books Ireland

“This is a magnificent book, scholarly, marvellously illustrated and intriguing. … Many of the paintings reproduced in Irish Rural Interiors…have not been analysed or, in some cases, seen, since they left the artist’s studio. Now, tracked down and sumptuously presented, they make a vibrant testimony to the lives, liabilities and resources of their subjects.” -  Patricia Craig, Irish Times

“Absorbing…we can see much of Ireland’s history here in the pages of this unusual and sensitively written book.” - Antiques Trade Gazette

“[A] ground-breaking, thoroughly researched record… The commentary on individual paintings is perceptive and revealing… The book is an exemplary illustration of the ways in which different disciplines can learn from one another. … It is to be hoped that the publication of this beautiful and fascinating book will enable [‘unfashionable’ works] to be dusted off and brought into the light of day, where both their historical importance and their aesthetic appeal will surely make them popular with modern audiences.” - Christiana Payne, Apollo Magazine

"This is a riveting journey through the past, in the company of a truly polymathic imagination. Wonderful."---Kevin Myers, Irish Independent

‘Kitchens in the houses where I grew up had dressers filled with spongeware bowls, sugan chairs, earthen floors swept by besoms. All beautiful, all gone – too ephemeral and humble. This book brings it all back.’---Polly Devlin, The Week

"An important contribution to our understanding of both Irish rural society and the pictorial tradition in Ireland. Few works in recent years have made a greater contribution to our understanding of rural Irish social and material life. . . . Rich in visual and scholarly appeal."—Kevin O'Neill, Visual Resources

"Beautifully produced and a pleasure to explore. . . . An impressive achievement and an important addition to the bibliography of Irish material life."—Kenneth Ames, Studies in the Decorative Arts
ISBN: 9780300107326
Publication Date: May 31, 2006
320 pages, 285 x 245
220 b/w + 75 color illus.