Florence Ross

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Florence Ross
Born6 December 1870
Ulster, Northern Ireland
Died10 July 1949(1949-07-10) (aged 78)
Years active1906–48

Florence Agnes Ross (6 December 1870 – 10 July 1949) was an Irish artist, cousin and friend of John Millington Synge.[1]

Life and family[edit]

Florence Ross was born in Ulster on 6 December 1870. She was the youngest of three children of the Rev. William Steward Ross and Agnes Ross (née Traill). Very soon after Ross's birth, the family moved to 3 Orwell Park, Rathgar, Dublin to live with her maternal grandmother, Mrs Annie Traill. Mrs Traill other daughter, the widow Mrs Kathleen Synge, lived next door at 4 Orwell Park. Ross and her cousin, John Millington Synge, grew up together and were consequently very close.[1] They shared an interest in natural history[2] and kept a joint notebook for their observations and drawings of animals. In his autobiography, Synge wrote about his infatuation with Ross, and that his childhood with her was the happiest time in his life.[3] They did not remain as close in adulthood, but Ross and Synge's sister were the sole attendants at his Trinity College, Dublin graduation. In 1891 Ross lived with the Synges in Dún Laoghaire following the death of her mother, spending the summers with them at Castle Kevin, Annamoe, County Wicklow, passing the time drawing. She went to live with her brother in Tonga in 1895, where he was a doctor and she worked as his housekeeper. Over the next 11 years she visited New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina, returning to Ireland in 1906. Whilst in Ireland, Ross lived in Greystones, Clonlea, at various addresses in Dublin, and finally Blackrock. She ran a sketching club near Glendalough. Ross died in the Royal City of Dublin Hospital on 10 July 1949.[1][4]

Artistic work[edit]

From 1906 onwards, Ross dedicated her life to painting, primarily landscapes in watercolours.[4] As she spent a great deal of time in County Wicklow with her cousin Elizabeth Synge, a large portion of her work is from there. She also travelled and sketched in Antrim, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, and Kerry. Whilst on Great Blasket Island, she sketched the house Synge stayed in the "King's house". She exhibited with the Watercolour Society of Ireland from 1927 to 1948, showing around 90 paintings. From 1929 and 1938 she was exhibited by the Belfast Art Society and Ulster Academy of Arts, and 8 paintings with the Royal Hibernian Academy. Her works were mostly landscapes, many including buildings. Her work has not been the subject of much critical attention. South Tipperary county museum and art gallery, Hugh Lane Gallery, and the Waterford municipal collection all have examples of her work.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Hourican, Bridget (2009). "Ross, Florence Agnes". In McGuire, James; Quinn, James. Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ "J. M. Synge". The Literature Network. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  3. ^ Franks, Jill (2006). Islands and the Modernists: The Allure of Isolation in Art, Literature and Science. North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 81–82. ISBN 9780786424573.
  4. ^ a b Froggatt, Richard. "Florence Ross (1870–1949): Artist". The Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Retrieved 28 June 2015.

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