Expressions of Nationhood in Bronze & Stone: Albert G. Power, RHA


Síghle Bhreathnach-Lynch

July 2019

This first major examination of Albert Power’s life and career tells of one artist’s contribution to national identity before and after political independence.



At the time of his death in 1945, Albert Power was the leading nationalist sculptor in the Irish Free State, yet within a few decades he was almost forgotten. This first major examination of his life and career tells of one artist’s contribution to national identity before and after political independence.

In sculpture, at that time, the emphasis was on creating a pantheon of ‘new’ Irish heroes by means of monumental and portrait commissions. Power’s work, however, sprang from deeply held nationalist beliefs and he felt that subject matter alone was insufficient to ensure a distinctive Irish art. Wherever possible he deliberately chose native stone, believing that this best conveyed a nationalist sentiment, such as the limestone he used in the beloved monument to Padraic Ó Conaire in Galway.

His political commissions from 1922 onward reveal the new State’s desire for a national political and cultural identity, and in this book Power’s sculpture is explored both at the time of its production and within the broader context of writers and artists who wished to contribute to the new nation’s cultural identity, a legacy that modern Ireland enjoys today.

Table of Contents

Author’s Note

  • A Youthful Talent (1881–1911)
  • Notable Artisan and Fine Art Sculptor (1912–1921)
  • A Sculptor in Free State Ireland (1922–1931)
  • The Nation’s Sculptor (1932–1936)
  • Final Achievements (1936–1945)
  • Re-evaluating Albert Power: His Place in the History of Irish Art (1945–present)

Select Bibliography  

About the Author

Síghle Bhreathnach-Lynch is an art historian and former Curator of Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland. She has lectured in art history and women’s studies at UCD and at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, Oxford University, the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco, and throughout Ireland. Focusing on Irish nineteenth- and twentieth-century painting and sculpture, her publications include Fifty Works of Irish Art You Need to Know and Ireland’s Art Ireland’s History Representing Ireland, 1845 to Present.

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