Daniel O'Neill (1920-1974)

Landscape, Tyrella (1954)

Oil on board

70.2cm x 96cm

© the artist’s estate

From the Collection of Down County Museum



Born in Belfast on 21st January 1920, Daniel O’Neill trained as an electrician before taking up painting at the age of 19. For a number of years, he worked night shifts to focus on his art. Aside from a brief period at Belfast College of Art, he was mostly self-taught and in 1940, one year after he began to paint, he exhibited in a group show at the Mol Gallery, Belfast. In 1943 he exhibited alongside Gerard Dillon at the Contemporary Picture Galleries, Dublin.

By 1946, he had gained a contract with the Dublin dealer Victor Waddington, who gave him his first one-man show that year, an opportunity that allowed him to work full-time as an artist. O’Neill’s growing reputation meant his work began to appear regularly in Dublin at the Irish Exhibition of Living Art and Royal Hibernian Academy exhibitions, as well as appearing in London and internationally.

In 1958, O’Neill left Ireland for London, returning to Belfast in the mid-1960s. In 1969, he was represented by the Belfast dealer George McClelland, who supported him during the later years of his life.

He is known for his expressionist technique and themes of romanticism. After a visit to Paris in 1948, O'Neill's work was influenced by the Fauves – avant-garde colourists such as Henry Matisse and Georges Rouault. This painting of Tyrella, Co.Down, with its vivid zig-zag shape of the ploughed field, the strong yellows and greens of the landscape and the grey and menacing clouds shows some of these expressionist traits.