Gallery trails fine art find

November 22, 1996

The art gallery at Mount St Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is trying to trace the movements of an undocumented painting by the distinguished artist Margaret Clarke (1888-1961), recently discovered by the Canadian college.

Entitled Mary and Brigid, the 1917 painting was last exhibited in Dublin in 1924 and is known to have been in the household of the woman who sat for the baby in the painting and taken to the United States.

It may have been taken to Boston, an historic destination for Irish emigrants, but how it ended up in Halifax is a mystery.

The painting is after the academic school of Sir William Orpen, a distinguished Dublin society painter who taught Margaret Clarke.

It is believed to have come into the possession of the Sisters of Charity, who had founded Mount St Vincent in 1873.

"We think it is likely the painting passed to the university through them," Ingrid Jenken, the director of the art gallery, said. "But all their investigations have turned up nothing."

The painting has been in the university's collection since before 1971, when an inventory of its holdings was taken.

Although all university records prior to 1951 were lost when the campus was burned to the ground, it is probable that the painting would also have been destroyed if it had been held on university premises then.

Anyone with information is invited to telephone the gallery on (1) 902 457 6160.

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