This was painted
by the famous portraitist, John Singer Sergeant
who was his contemporary and among his social
Joseph O'Meara was born on 30 March, 1853 in Carlow,
Ireland. The son of Dr. Thomas O'Meara, he was probably
educated at Knockbeg College. He left for Paris
c.1872-73 where he would study under the French painter Carolus-Duran.
In 1875 he visited the artists colonies in Barbizon and
eleven years at Greg-sur-Loing in the forest of
Fontainebleau. O'Meara was a popular member of
the group and his contemporises including Laverty
(Irish) Slott (English), Harrison (American) and Lasson
(Swedish) acknowledge his considerable influence on the
artistic fraternity. He painted portraits, landscapes
but mostly figures in landscape. In 1880 he did a
series of figures of single women beside the waters
edge with the haunting titles "Evening", "Twilight",
"Towards Night and Winter", "October", "November", "The
Widow". His paintings were included in exhibitions in
Paris, London, Liverpool and Glasgow. Among
O'Meara's fellow students were American John Singer
Sargent. O'Meara's reputation was far greater in
France and Glasgow during his lifetime than in Ireland.
and Family Home of Frank O'Meara at 37 Dublin
Street, Carlow. The relevant house can be
identified as the premises called "Royal
Insurance". This photograph was taken circa
1970's. O'Meara also died here in 1888 at the
early age of 35 years with his father Dr. Thomas
O'Meara present at his death.
Source of Image: Carlow County
recently, O'Meara has almost been forgotten, and one
wonders if his achievement was exaggerated by his
friends, for he belongs very much to this fin-de-siecle
period, and artists from all over Europe were painting
'poetic landscapes' neither fully naturalistic, nor
truly Symbolist. Moreover, O'Meara was by no means the
first foreign artist to paint at Barbizon and Grez.
However, he was one of the first of a younger
generation to settle in the country, linking two
generations of students; the group from Carolus-Duran's
in the 1870's with those in the eighties, thus gaining
a certain status among younger artist. As an early
exponent of plein-airism, depicting figure in landscape
and combining tonal value with decorative effect,
O'Meara was one of the forerunners of the 'Glasgow
Night', O'Meara's best-known painting, is a fine
example of contemporary plein airism as practiced at
Grez. The absorption of the girl in burning leaves on
the river-bank of the Loing and the 'twilight'
atmosphere are characteristic of O'Meara. There are the
usual sedges by the little pool, an autumnal landscape
and gray light, and in the background are the houses
and dark rooftops of Grez reflected in the pool, which
appear in pictures by Stott, Larsson and many other
artists. The restricted palette green, red, brown,
grey and silver and the pale tonality are typical of
the artist. He applied his paints thinly and did not
use the square-brush technique favoured by other plein-air
In 1888 he
returned to Ireland to visit his mother but died of
malaria fever contracted in France. An American
artist, Birge Harrison remembers him "...Frank O'Meara,
the handsome, debonair young Irishman who was to die
before his great talent as a painter made its mark...."
He is buried in the family tomb in Bennekerry, Carlow.
Frank's ancestors, Barry O'Meara, was Napoleon's
physician at St. Helena.
- The information contained in these
pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing with
others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
- © 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects,
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