Mainie Jellett

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Mainie Jellett
Mainie Jellett.jpg
Born Mary Harriet Jellett
(1897-04-29)29 April 1897
Dublin, Ireland
Died 16 February 1944(1944-02-16) (aged 46)
Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Alma mater Metropolitan School of Art
Occupation Artist, painter
Achill Horses by Mainie Jellett, 1938

Mary Harriet "Mainie" Jellett (29 April 1897, Dublin – 16 February 1944, Dublin) was an Irish painter whose Decoration (1923) was among the first abstract paintings shown in Ireland when it was exhibited at the Society of Dublin Painters Group Show in 1923.


Jellett was born on 29 April 1897 at 36 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, the daughter of William Morgan Jellett, a barrister and later MP, and Janet McKenzie Stokes.[1][2] Her aunt was a pioneering woman doctor working in India, Eva Jellett.

Jellett studied at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin (her teachers included William Orpen)[3] and under Walter Sickert at the Westminster Technical Institute in London. She showed precocious talent as an artist in the impressionist style. However, with her companion Evie Hone, she then moved to Paris, where, working under André Lhote and Albert Gleizes she encountered cubism and began an exploration of non-representational art. After 1921 she and Evie Hone returned to Dublin but for the next decade they continued to spend part of each year in Paris.

A deeply committed Christian, her paintings, though strictly non-representational, often have religious titles and often resemble icons in tone and palate. In Irish Art, a Concise History Bruce Arnold writes that

"Many of her abstracts are built up from a central 'eye' or 'heart' in arcs of colour, help up and together by the rhythm of line and shape, and given depth and intensity - a sense of abstract perspective - by the basic understanding of light and colour"[4]

Jellett was an important figure in Irish art history, both as an early proponent of abstract art and as a champion of the modern movement. Her painting was often attacked critically but she proved eloquent in defense of her ideas. Along with Evie Hone, Louis le Brocquy, Jack Hanlon and Norah McGuinness, Jellett co-founded the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943.


Jellett died on 16 February 1944, aged 46, of pancreatic cancer.[5]

Work in collections[edit]


  1. ^ "General Registrar's Office". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  2. ^ "Church records". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  3. ^ Ferriter, Diarmaid (2009). "Jellett, Mainie". In McGuire, James; Quinn, James. Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  4. ^ Arnold, Bruce (1968). Irish Art, a Concise History. Praeger. p. 174. 
  5. ^ "General Registrar's Office". Retrieved 20 April 2017. 


External links[edit]