William John Leech

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William John Leech (10 April 1881 – 16 July 1968) was an Irish painter.


Leech was born in Dublin and went to school at St Columba's College, Dublin in Rathfarnham, later studying at the Metropolitan School. He later transferred to the Royal Hibernian Academy and studied under Walter Osborne. In 1903, Leech left Dublin for Paris, where he would fall in love with the French landscape.

After he returned to Dublin from Brittany in 1906 he was soon embraced into the artistic circle of George Russell (A.E.), Constance Gore-Booth and her husband Casimir Dunin Markievicz. He exhibited nearly seventy paintings with them in a group exhibition at the Leinster Lecture Hall in August 1907. In December 1909 Leech exhibited with Jack Yeats, Albert Power, Eva Hamilton, William Orpen, Lily Williams, A.E., Constance Gore-Booth and Dermod O’Brien in the first Aonach art exhibition, organised by Sinn Féin as part of the Irish Festival at the Rotunda.

On his return to France he married Elizabeth Saurin, a young painter of a similar style, in Concarneau. They separated after just two years of marriage. Leech would travel throughout Europe and eventually settled in England in 1919, with frequent visits to the South of France, to Marseilles, Grasse and Cagnes-sur-Mer.

Art Work[edit]

Leech was well known for his illustrations of Concarneau harbour. The works of Leech feature coastal and harbour scenes, landscapes, interiors, still life and portraits. .

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  • "The Irish Impressionists, Irish Artists in France and Belgium 1850-1914". Julian Campbell. National Gallery of Ireland. 1984
  • http://www.mpfa.ie/Leech.htm Retrieved September 24, 2006.

An Irish Artist W. J. Leech R H A. An Introductory Guide to his artistic career. Published by Alan Denson 4 August 1968