Sean Keating was born in Limerick and studied at Dublin Metropolitan School of Art on a scholarship. He studied under William Orpen (1878-1931) and upon completion of his studies worked as Orpen’s studio assistant for a year in London. Keating taught throughout his artistic career first at Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, and later as professor of National College of Art in Dublin.

Keating was one of Ireland’s leading painters of the first half of the twentieth century. He offered a national subject within a traditional academic style in the face of emerging modernism in art and society, in the context of a new independent Ireland. His subject depicted the common people of the West of Ireland who still lived within the traditional cultural norms of rural life, separated from the impending changes of international modernism. His landscapes were rugged and the people depicted as idyllic, as a symbol of true Irishness. This was his contribution to the new Irish identity.

Keating exhibited under the auspices of British Art in the Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy as well as with salon des rufuses style associations such as the Association of Irish Artists. He was elected member of Royal Hibernian Academy and became president, serving from 1948-1962. When he died Keating was disregarded by critics for his dismissal of the avant-garde modern art movements, though his work remained beloved by the public. His contribution to the canon of Irish art is rightly celebrated once again. His nationalistic, patriotic and traditional paintings, imbued with his strong sense of democracy represent a specific period in Irish history, of which the earlier literary movement of WB Yeats and JM Syne, also spoke.
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