Grace Mitchell Henry


Grace Henry
Peterhead, Scotland.
Achill Island from Belmullet
Thomas Malone Collection
Keem Bay, Achill Island
Achill Island.

This Scottish artist was one of the first artists to provide delightful colourful paintings to a modern Irish society in her timeframe.  She is best known for her Seascapes, Landscapes also her Floral paintings.

Emily Grace Mitchell was born on 10th February 1868 at Kirktown, St Fergus near Peterhead, Aberdeenshire in Scotland. Her father Rev. John Mitchell was a Church of Ireland Minister, her mother Jane Garden of Piccadilly also her grandmother was a cousin of Lord Byron.  She was the youngest child of a family of ten.  While living at The Manse he received a private education at her home, while spending time at her family’s residence in Piccadilly, London, prior to her attendance at a Finishing School in London.  In 1895 her father retired after forty years of Ministry, the family moved to 77, Ashley Road, Aberdeen, he died later in that same year.  After her father’s demise Grace began her travels from 1899 throughout Holland and  Belgium.  [i]

Europe and Ireland

Grace Mitchell spent some time at the Blanc Garrins Academy in Brussels and Northern France prior to settling in Paris.  She also studied at Academie Carmen and Academie Julian also at Whistler’s Studio.  Grace met Paul Henry in Paris they were married on 17th September 1903 at St. Peter’s Church Bayswater London. They held joint exhibitions in London etc. They also sent submissions to the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin from time to time.  [ii]


They both moved to Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland initially for a fortnight’s holiday that continued on for nine years due to Paul Henry’s love of Achill. Grace Henry continued painting in Achill she was moved by the landscapes in one of the most remote parts of Ireland, she responded sympathetically to the local people and environment.  She used modern techniques to depict everyday social scenes. [iii]   Grace Mitchell Henry often painted outdoors at night under artificial light or moonlight at an old bridge at Dooagh. They both left Achill in after seven years in 1919 for Dublin.  Grace Henry preferred the urban lifestyle of London or Dublin rather than a life on Achill Island. The relationship between the Henry’s deteriorated as Grace Henry once again had to urge to travel, they eventually parted in 1927. Sometime later she left for France and Italy with a companion Stephen Gwynn.  Paul Henry remarried after her death but did not mention her in his two autobiographies. [iv]

Dublin Society

Paul and Grace Henry established The Society of Dublin Painters with an artists Studio and Exhibition Centre in Dublin, their first exhibition was held in August 1919.  They held their first Dublin Exhibition in 1920. [v]  During a joint exhibition with her husband entitled “Pictures of the West of Ireland” in the spring of 1916 at Belfast, seven of her paintings were discussed in a newspaper report as “Evening or “Moonlit” subjects.  Other joint exhibitions were held in Stephen’s Green Gallery plus at the Magee Gallery in Belfast.  [vi]

Changes in Style

From 1905 Grace used the medium of oils for her artistic works that included a possible self–portrait in a blue smock.  At this time she also painted “The Girl in White.”  In a later period Grace’s plain somber paintings were replaced with a sense of freedom and colourful strong form and composition that included figurative subjects, single or in groups i.e. “Top of the Hill”, a very striking painting very bold colours and heavy outlines that gives a sense of community.   In her “Evening Star” 1912 her use of colour is particularly striking in the vivid blue of the sky.  Her work was of this period shows a rich palette with atmospheric effects. Her work portrays modern influences ie; Cubism and Japanese Prints. [vii]  Some years later Grace’s paintings reflected her freedom with more seagulls, trees were bent in the wind, also more colour was introduced i.e.; “The Storm”, “Floods at Ennis” or “Kerry Sunset.”   During the 1930’s she made several visits to the South of France and Adriatic coast of Italy plus lake areas, also in Venice and Chiogga  where her “The Balcony” was possibly produced at that time.  Her work included the “fauvist” style plus free brushwork and vibrant colours, she experimented with Expressionism ie; “Spring in Winter”, along with landscapes she painted several floral works in her studio.  [viii]


Pre 1900 Grace Mitchell submitted artworks, her first “Zutphen” to the Aberdeen Artists Society plus various Scottish exhibitions. During 1922 Grace Henry was represented with five works at an Irish exhibition in Paris. During 1930 she was represented again in Brussels where she was commended by the Gallery as her paintings “was all poetry.”   She exhibited at the Waddington in Dublin including thirty works to the RHA plus to The Hugh Lane Gallery also in London.  During 1949 Grace Henry became an Honorary Member of the R.H.A.   [ix]

Grace Henry returned to Dublin from Europe aged 71 years at the outbreak of W.W.2. where she lived in hotels or with friends.  She continued to paint and exhibit in the Waddington and Dawson Galleries in Dublin.  Grace died on 11th August 1953 in Dublin she is buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery.  [x]


Link to view Grace Mitchell Henry’s artwork;  [xi]


[i] – Grace Henry











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