Paul Henry was born on 11th April 1876 in Belfast and became one of Ireland’s greatest twentieth-century landscape painters. Railway companies (1920’s) and Bord Fáilte (1940’s) popularised his work with prints. In his own words, Paul wanted to capture in his work “the very soul of Ireland”. He recalled that the atmosphere at home was constricting throughout his childhood, however, when he entered Methodist College, Belfast in 1882, he began drawing frequently. When he was fifteen, he moved to the Royal Belfast Academical Institution where he had already decided to become an artist.
In 1898, Henry left Belfast and studied under Jean-Paul Laurens in the ‘Académie Julian’ in Paris. Here he first met Grace Mitchell who Paul then married in 1903 in London. He stayed in Paris for a further two years when he began to use charcoal and then moved to London. To make a living, Paul submitted illustrations to local papers and also taught classes in writing pamphlets.
In 1910, Henry first exhibited at Dublin’s RHA, becoming an associate in 1926 and then a full member in 1928. He was one of the first Academicians of the Ulster Academy of Arts. His early works of the west of Ireland classically include figures, however, later he focused on capturing cloud formations, historic hillsides and lakes of Connemara and Wicklow.
Henry’s career has been both documented through his own writings and most recently through Dr Kennedy’s monograph, Paul Henry (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2000).