Roderic O’Conor is one of the leading Irish painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and an important member of the Pont-Aven colony that surrounded Paul Gauguin in Brittany. Having trained at the Dublin School of Art, O’Conor went on to study at the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts in Antwerp before travelling to Paris and immersing himself in the new avant-garde school of painting.
Having briefly visited Pont Aven in 1886, O’Conor returned to the Breton village in 1891. Pont Aven was the epicentre of Synthetism, with a thriving community of avant-garde artists that included Gauguin and Bernard. This was a crucial moment for O’Conor who worked side by side with Gauguin, developing his bold use of colour and searching for the essence of his subject through simplified forms.
In 1904 O’Conor returned to Paris and established his studio in Montparnasse, where he would remain for eight years. Whilst in Paris, O’Conor became friends with the then Intimist painters Bonnard and Vuillard. Alongside the two artists, he left behind the style of Gauguin and the Nabis. O’Conor forged an Intimist style of painting focused on still lifes, nudes and flower paintings, such as the present work from 1911.
Largely working from his studio, O’Conor painted quickly and confidently, preferring to depict the feeling of the scene in front of him. In ‘Still life with Spring flowers in a vase’ the focus is upon ambient light and colour, the calling card of the intimistes. Using sweeping brushstrokes, a gentle haze delicately suffuses the canvas creating an intimate atmosphere that balances against his bold use of colour.
O’Conor’s international reputation has soared over recent decades with major exhibitions at the Ulster Museum, Belfast (1985-86) and Barbican Art Gallery, London (1985). His work can now be found in public collections around the world including Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; Ulster Museum, Belfast; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis; Tate Britain, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York and Musée des Beaux-Arts de Pont-Aven, Pont-Aven.