William John Leech RHA

William Leech was born in Dublin. He studied at the Metropolitan School of Art and Royal Hibernian Academy schools in Dublin from 1899-1901. During this time he was taught by Walter Osborne (1859-1903) who had a strong influence on his work, particularly in his use of light. Leech continued his studies in Paris from 1901 at Académie Julian and spent time living in Brittany from 1903-1908. Leech painted portraiture, landscapes as well as genre scenes. His work from this period was strongly influenced by William Orpen (1878- 1931) in Leech’s interior studies and James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) in his larger impressionistic landscape paintings. Leech’s style used an unusual perspective and his paintwork was broad and assertive, reflective of his time among his fellow Breton painters. During this period he developed his use of light as under Osborne and in his paintings sunlight is dappled amid foliage and reflected in heavy patches of dark shadow or interior space.

Following this period, he spent time in London from 1910. He exhibited at the Paris Salon a number of times during this decade and returned to France around 1925 until 1933. He finally settled in Guildford and exhibited frequently in London and Dublin with the Royal Hibernian Academy, the New English Art Club and Dawson Gallery.

His work is in a number of important collections including the National Gallery of Ireland, the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery and in Belfast at the Ulster Museum.
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