Spotlight on an Artist: Henry Robertson Craig, RHA (1916 - 1984)

17/09/2022     General News, Artworks

Henry Robertson Craig, or Harry as he was more fondly known to those close to him, was born in Dumfries, Scotland in 1916. His mother’s name is not documented, while she is the subject matter of numerous works by Craig, while his father is known to be grocer, George Craig. He studied at the Dundee College of Art, where he met his life partner, Patrick Hennessey. At the age of 30, Craig moved to Ireland and in 1947 moved to Crosshaven and then Cobh, spending their time in Hennessey’s native county Cork. In the midst of his work as an artist, World War II took full flight, and Craig, like most young men, took his place in the British army. The outbreak of war delayed Craig’s travel plans after being granted a scholarship by his school to enrich his cultural knowledge. However, his artistic personality was not hindered in the miliary setting, using his talents to forge maps and design camouflage. 


Outside of the work he did for the army, Craig was an outstanding portraitist; exhibiting his skills in rendering the image of those he knew well such as Mother with Monty and Duke (1958) and also those he encountered on his travels, including a series of three portraits of young men from North Africa, M‘Hamed, Mustapha, and Abdel Kader (undated). His work is in the permanent collection in both IMMA and the National Gallery of Ireland, as well as having a solo show in the Guildhall Galleries in Chicago in the mid-sixties. These are but a few of his numerous accolades.


In this month’s auction, we have a great example of Craig’s work in My Name is Jimmy (undated). The image shows a young boy smiling out to the viewer, with his one tooth on show. His bright blue eyes connect the subject and viewer in a youthful gaze, and the boy’s blunt and choppy hair indicates the style was done at home. There is something familiar about the image; a wholesome snapshot of youth between the single-toothed gummy smile, button nose, Bambi-like eyes, and most notably the name Jimmy giving a youthful take on the name James. This work would brighten any space with Jimmy’s smile, at the neat size of  14.5” each side, it is the perfect size for any space and can hang alone or accompanied by other works.


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