Daniel O'Neill

Daniel O'Neill (1920-1974)
Ireland's foremost romantic painter, Dan O'Neill was the son a Belfast electrician. He took life classes at the Belfast College of Art and worked for a short period in the studio of fellow Belfast artist Sidney Smith. The advent of his painting career coincided with the outbreak of WWII; after the 1941 Blitz of Belfast he took to salvaging wood and experimenting with wood carving. His first exhibition was in 1941 a the Mol Gallery, Belfast. Within five years the Dublin art dealer Victor Waddington had taken him in hand, granting a regular income which allowed him to give up his day-job as an electrician, and focus on painting full-time. He visited Paris in 1949, and there absorbed the lessons of Rouault, Vlaminck and Utrillo. In the early 1950s, O'Neill left Belfast with his wife and young child, moving to the village of Conlig, Co. Down. Conlig had a small-scale artist's colony at the time, with George Campbell and Gerard Dillon (q.q.v.) also living there. Residents of Conlig still recall the sight of the tall handsome O'Neill taking long walks outside the village with his wife and small daughter. In 1958 he left Ireland for London. His work from this time onwards was increasingly introspective and often desolate. He returned to Belfast in 1971, and died three years later