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Georgina Moutray Kyle is sadly another woman artist who had an accomplished and defined personal style, was highly considered by her peers, was hugely influential to her local artistic community but is not remembered or revered in the same way as her male counterparts. Her work is represented in multiple public collections across Ireland but little is known about her life and practice.
Artists featured in this Curation: Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
9 artworks
  • Georgina Moutray Kyle was born in Craigavad, County Down, on the shores of Belfast Lough, about nine miles from the centre of Belfast. The same townland as the Ulster Folk Museum, it is fitting that the collection holds a number of paintings by her, in addition to the collection held by the Ulster Museum.

    She never attended school, there is reference to her parents considering her a ‘frail’ child. Their affluence afforded them the ability to provide her with education through a governess and various tutors at home. This likely included some degree of artistic study.

    Gleams of Sunshine, Belfast Harbour c.1938
    Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
    National Museums Northern Ireland
    Gleams of Sunshine, Belfast Harbour
    © National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

  • She rarely left the family home, and did not even travel into the centre of Belfast unaccompanied, but she made the daunting journey to Paris in 1883 at the age of 18 to study at the Académie Colarossi. This was one of the small number of private academies that accepted female students, as the main art college in Paris at the time, the École des Beaux-Arts, did not accept women students until 1897.

    The Coming Storm, Volendam, Holland c.1927
    Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
    National Museums Northern Ireland
    The Coming Storm, Volendam, Holland
    © National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

  • Her time in Paris clearly sparked an interest in adventure and she continued to travel extensively throughout Europe for the rest of her career. Bringing her influence back to Belfast through paintings and lectures at the Belfast Art Society, she would often give talks about her travels and the trends she had spotted in painting on the continent.

    She went on to exhibit one of her French market works in the Paris Salon in 1924, which was then purchased by the Ulster Museum in 1927.

    A Market in France c.1929
    Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
    National Museums Northern Ireland
    A Market in France
    © National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

  • In addition to bringing her knowledge home to Ireland, Moutray Kyle was active in the Belfast art scene. She was the secretary for the Ladies Life Class, a member of the Belfast Ramblers sketching club, and was one of the first academicians of the Ulster Academy of the Arts (the Royal Ulster Academy) going on to become vice president.

    Harbour Scene with Floats probably early 1920s
    Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
    National Museums Northern Ireland
    Harbour Scene with Floats
    © National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

  • Moutray Kyle exhibited widely, representing Northern Ireland in the Wembley exhibition of 1924, she showed at the royal Hibernian Academy, Royal Institute of Oil Painters London, Walker Gallery in Liverpool and the Royal Scottish Academy. Though she did not actively sell, and this appears to be by choice, she often preferred to give her paintings to family and friends.

    The Lifting of the Fog at the Gasworks, Belfast c.1926
    Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
    National Museums Northern Ireland
    The Lifting of the Fog at the Gasworks, Belfast
    © National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

  • Many of her paintings are seaside scenes, specifically depicting the work of women in relation to fishing. Every year she would spend part of her summer in the fishing village of Ardglass, County Down, where this scene was painted.

    Ardglass was central to the herring fishing industry. At the height of the season the harbour would have boats from all over Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and as far away as Cornwall. The fish were processed by women known as 'The Gutter Girls', some were locals but most came from Donegal and the West of Ireland.

    Girls and Gulls at Ardglass probably 1920s
    Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
    National Museums Northern Ireland
    Girls and Gulls at Ardglass
    © National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

  • Her interest in the daily lives of women is also evident in her market scenes both in France and this one of Belfast.

    Women from all over Ireland flocked to the city to find work in the late nineteenth century industrial textile boom. Many worked in the factories and manufacturers, there were also textile jobs at the local markets. Older women, such as those depicted here, may have ended up selling second hand wares when they could no longer work in the physically demanding industrial positions.

    This painting is likely of Smithfield in the west of the city, though this scene was common across the markets of the city.

    At the Market at Belfast c.1927
    Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
    National Museums Northern Ireland
    At the Market at Belfast
    © National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

  • Though most of her work centred on activity and movement through bustling market scenes, or the rhythm of the sea, she did paint a small number of still lifes. Also executed in her distinctive style, these studies maintained her strong emphasis on shape and colour, evoking a similar pale palette to those in the New English Art Club at the that time.

    Beauty and the Beasts c.1927
    Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
    National Museums Northern Ireland
    Beauty and the Beasts
    © National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

  • Georgina Moutray Kyle died at her home in Belfast in 1950 at the age of 85. National Museums NI is fortunate to be able to mark her presence through the twenty-six works held across the Ulster Museum and Ulster Folk Museum. They have been collected over ninety years through purchases and gifts from the artist herself and her great niece.

    There is still much more to learn about the life of this artist. Hopefully through highlighting her here on Art UK, we can begin to secure her position as an important figure in the artistic activity of the North of Ireland.

    Study for 'Girls and Gulls at Ardglass' probably 1920s
    Georgina Moutray Kyle (1865–1950)
    National Museums Northern Ireland
    Study for 'Girls and Gulls at Ardglass'
    © National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland