Harry Kernoff RHA(1900 - 1974)

Harry Aaron Kernoff was born in London on 9th January 1900 to a Russian father and Spanish mother.

08/05/2024     Artworks

Harry Aaron Kernoff was born in London on 9th January 1900 to a Russian father and Spanish mother. His father was a cabinetmaker and taught Kernoff from a young age to work with his hands, having him work alongside him until the family moved to Dublin in 1914.


His interest in craft making and creativity did not disappear after the move, but only increased. While still a young man, Kernoff enrolled in night classes at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, and after years of hard work, he was awarded the Taylor Scholarship which allowed him to be a full-time day student at the school. Kernoff’s talent was in the portrayal of real people and genuine representations of experience, and the influence his contemporaries such as Sean Keating had on him is evident in this sense.


In 1926, Kernoff began to exhibit at the Royal Hibernian Academy and was elected a member ten years later. He showed an average of five works each year until his death in 1974; in fact, the only RHA exhibition Kernoff ever missed was in 1930/31 when he was in the Soviet Union. In 1928, Kernoff took a leaf out of Jack B. Yeats’ book and competed in the painting event of the  ‘Art Competition’ section of the Olympic games in Amsterdam alongside five other Irish artists. Ireland has won three Olympic medals in this section, with one for literature and two for painting. Unfortunately, art has not been a part of the Olympic Games since 1948.


Harry Kernoff exhibited all over the world, both in group exhibitions and solo shows, with his name recognised across the continents even today. His ability to connect with the everyday person and create a relationship with the viewer is difficult to achieve, but he mastered it nonetheless.


In the Design Sale, we have a portrait from Kernoff’s early art career, when he was only three years into his 48 year career with the Royal Hibernian Academy. The Portrait of Ms. Walsh was a gift from Kernoff to the sitter in 1929.

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