Frank McKelvey RHA RUA

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Artist Bio

Frank McKelvey RHA RUA

Frank McKelvey was a landscape and portrait painter born in Belfast. Before entering the Belfast School of Art he was a poster designer with David Allen & Sons. McKelvey won the Sir Charles Brett prize (1912) and the Fitzpatrick prize for figure drawing in 1914 and in 1917; he won a bronze medal in the Taylor Art competition.

In the early stages of his career, Frank was commissioned by Thomas McGowan to produce pictures of Old Belfast. Once he had completed the task, the pictures were later shown in 1930 in the Ulster Museum. This gained Frank huge recognition and from 1918 to 1973, he showed pictures in the Royal Hibernian Academy without missing a year. In 1930 he became a full member of the RHA and was one of the first Academicians of the Royal Ulster Academy. In 1936, Dutch citizens in Ireland as a gift for Princess Juliana purchased a few of his landscapes.

S.B Kennedy wrote a book called, ‘Frank McKelvey, RHA RUA, 1993’ and in it he wrote, ‘In essence he was a Romantic; yet in the inter-war years in particular, with his contemporaries amongst the landscapists, he helped to forge a new and distinct way of representing the Irish scene which is the nearest approximation we have to a distinct Irish school of painting….He had a sharp eye and could, with apparent ease, penetrate the essentials of his subject and set it down with a matching exactitude.’ 

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