Thomas Bodkin

Life
1887-1961 [Thomas Patrick Bodkin]; b. 21 July, Dublin; nephew of Hugh Lane; ed. Belvedere & Clongowes Wood; Paris, 1905; grad. RUI 1908; bar 1912 [var. 1911, ?DIW]; sec. to Commissioners for Charitable Donations and Bequests, 1917-35; member of Govt. commission on coinage, 1926; member of organising committee of the national Museum, 1927; Dir. of National Gallery, 1927-35 [var. 1928- ]; contrib. article on modern Irish Art to the Free State Official Handbook (1932); Barber Prof. of Fine Arts, Barber Institute, Birmingham, 1935-52; retained as purchaser on retirement; long struggle to assert Irish right to Lane pictures under codicil, achieving success through Lord Longford and others in 1957; his ‘Report on the Arts in Ireland’ (1949) led to establishment of the Arts Council (An Chomhairle Ealaíon); honorary doctorates from NUI and TCD; Hon. RHA 1947; Papal Knight, 1952; chevalier Legion of Honour, 1933, and officier, 1952; radio and television appearances; d. Birmingham; there is an oil portrait by Estelle Solomons (1924) and another in chalk by Seán O’Sullivan (Jan. 1935, NGI). DIW DIB DIH

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Works
Four Irish landscape Painters: George Barret, RA, James A. O'Connor, Walter F. Osborne, RHA., Nathaniel Hone, RHA.
(Dublin: Talbot Press; London: T. Fisher Unwin 1920), [2], xxx, 236pp., 36 plates, with apps. II-XVII containing lists of works and auction prices (p.73-230), and Do. [facs. rep. edn.] (1987);The Approach to Painting (London: Bell [1927]; new edb. Collins 1945), xxiv, 192pp., front., XXIII pls.; with Lucius O'Callaghan [completed by Bodkin], Catalogue of pictures and other works of art in the National Gallery of Ireland and the National Portrait Gallery (Dublin: Stationery Office [Wood Printing Works] 1928), xix, 422pp. Stained Glass Window, St. Joseph’s Terenure, Souvenir of Dedication (1st ed. 1930), 47pp.; Hugh Lane and His Pictures (Paris: Pegasus Press, 1932; Dublin: Stationary Office 1932; Nolan 1934; 1956, &c.), 90pp., 51 pls. [for the Irish government]; Importance of Art for Ireland (3 Candles Press, 1936); Jan Vermeer (1940); My Uncle Frank (London: Hale 1941) [biog. of Hugh Lane], 149pp., fp. by Jack B. Yeats; Dismembered Masterpieces: A Plea for their Reconstruction by International Action (London: Collins 1945), 123pp., of which 76 pls.; intro & annot., Flemish Paintings [The Faber Gallery] (London: Faber & Faber [1945]), 24pp., 10 mounted col. ills.The Wilton Diptych (1947); Reports on the Arts in Ireland (1949); An Chomhairle Ealaíon/Arts Council (1951).

Reprint, Four Irish landscape painters: George Barret, James A. O'Connor, Walter F. Osborne, Nathaniel Hone, with an introduction by Julian Campbell [2nd edn.; facs] (Dublin: IAP 1987), [13], iv-xxx, 236ppp., pls. [26pp. p, 4 in col.].

Note: An extract from Bodkin’s discussion of modern Irish art in the Free State Official Handbook (1932) is reprinted in Fintan Cullen, Ed., Sources in Irish Art: A Reader (Cork UP 2000).

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Criticism
Alan Denson, Thomas Bodkin (Dublin 1966); Patricia Boylan, All Cultivated People (1988) [records his activities as a leading member of the United Arts Club, including instances of his wit]; S. B. Kennedy, Irish Art & Modernism (Inst. Irish Studies 1991) [summary of his Report on the Arts in Ireland, 1950]; see also Peter Costello, Clongowes Wood (1991).

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Commentary
Patricia Boylan
, All Cultivated People, a History of the United Arts Club (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1988) for extensive remarks on Bodkin’s role in the United Arts Club from 1912, and the cultural life of Dublin. Bodkin was cited in the codicil to Hugh Lane’s will, ‘I would like my fiend Tom Bodkin to be asked to help in the obtaining of this new Gallery of Modern Art for Dublin. If within five years a Gallery is not forthcoming, then the group of pictures (at the national Gallery in London) are to be sold, and the proceeds to go to fulfil the purpose of my will, signed 3 Feb. 1915, but unwitnessed. See also quotations from Hugh Lane and His Pictures, ibid.

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Quotations
Ireland and the Arts: ‘[…] it became justifiable to say of Ireland that no other country of Western Europe cared less, or gave less, for the cultivation of the Arts.’ (Report, 1949, p.9; cited in Gerry Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature, Pluto Press 1998, p.95.)

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References
COPAC lists [inter al.] Four Irish Landscape Painters [George Barret, RA; James A. O’Connor, Walter F. Osborne, RHA, Nathaniel Hone, RHA (Dublin:Talbot Press; London: T. Fisher Unwin 1920), [2], xxx, 236pp., 36 pls. [facs], ports, with lists of works and prices realised at auction [Appendices II-XVII, p.73-230], letterpress leaves with ills.

TCD Library holds a copy of Four Irish Landscape Painters (1920) with C. P. Curran's bookplate and signature, and another with an inscription 'To James Stephens from his friend Thomas Bodkin December 12th 1920' held in the James Stephens collection of [presented 1990].

University of Ulster Library, Morris Collection holds The Importance of Art for Ireland (Three Candles 1935); Importance of Art for Ireland (3 Candles Press, 1936); Hugh Lane and His Pictures [1932]. Belfast Public Library holds Four Irish Landscape Painters (1987).

Hyland Catalogue (Dec. 1996) lists May It Please Your Lordships, reproductions of Modern French Poems (Dublin 1917) [ltd. ed. of 560] [Cathach Bks. 12 offers Nos.71 & 320]. Do., 1st edn. (1917); Twelve Irish Artists (1940), 12 mounted col. ills; My Uncle Frank, new and rev. edn. (1947), ill. Jack B. Yeats.

Kenny’s Books, Galway (Ireland Cat. 2004) lists Twelve Irish Artists, Dublin Victor Waddington Publs. Ltd. [1940]), Introduction by Thomas Bodkin, pp.5-7; 7 p., [24] leaves;12 mounted col. plates, 40 cm. Quarter cloth over boards; good clean copy with title printed in green on front board, well defined edges with slight suggestion of dust dulling, suggestion of rub wear to spine extremities, clean and crisp; pages inscribed; and signed by Bodkin €195.00

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Notes
W. B. Yeats was the subject of an obituary by Bodkin for the Birmingham Post containing the remark that Yeats ‘sometimes irritated those who might have wished to be familiar with him’. Roy Foster remarks that there may be an autobiographical resonance here since Bodkin goes on to say that Yeats was ‘not a man who enjoyed friendships’ (30 Jan. 1939). (See Roy Foster, ‘When the Newspaper have forgotten me ...’, in Yeats Annual 12, ed. Warwick Gould & Edna Longley, 1996, p.166.)

Monk Gibbon mentions Thomas Bodkin as author of ‘that too little known book [...] May It Please Your Lordships, in which the translator’s art has been carried to a pitch of perfection very rarely reached. Bodkin’s translations are printed side by side with the original poem, a challenge to the severest critics of that art which some people feel must always show traces of its bastard origin. I know no other so consistently good. Throughout the whole book one seems to be reading, in two different languages, separate poems upon on identical theme, born out of the same inspiration, and each equally successful in its own way.’ (Mount Ida, 1948, p.43.) See also under Frank Pakenham [Lord Longford], infra.

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