Untitled Irish landscape
Signed lower left circa 1915
Oil on canvas / 30 x 36 inches
Farhat Art Museum Collection.
Michael Augustine Power (1877–1946) was an Irish artist, known as Power O’Malley.
He was born in Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland on 19 January 1877 to Michael Power and Bridget Hannigan. Upon the death of his father, his mother married Dennis O’Malley and the family moved to Dublin where he reportedly studied at The Metropolitan School of Art. He took the name O’Malley in honour of his much loved stepfather.
Emigrating to New York at the turn of the 20th century, O’Malley did book illustrations and covers for Life, The Literary Digest, Harper’s and Puck. He traveled to the west coast where he advised John Ford on film settings and reportedly painted sets for Cecil B. DeMille’s epic The King of Kings. In 1904 he married Ruth Yeaton Stuart, the daughter of an Alexandria, Virginia judge. The couple probably went to France where he continued his study of art. After twenty-three years, the marriage ended in divorce. The couple had two children, Theo, who died in infancy, and is buried in Bailey’s Bay, Bermuda, and Ruth Power-O’Malley, born in 1906 in Bailey’s Bay, Bermuda. Ruth Power-O’Malley was a well-known writer of short stories and screenplays during the 1940s. Her novel, Mrs. Cassatt’s Children, was published by Houghton-Mifflin in 1943. It is based on the story of her Virginia family, who settled in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Ruth Power-O’Malley is buried in the Outerbridge family grave, near that of her brother, in Bailey’s Bay.
Power-O’Malley made regular painting trips back to Ireland—most notably to Achill Island in County Mayo. His first exhibition was held in 1913 at the Gaelic League Hall on Rutland Square (now Parnell Square), Dublin. Other exhibit locales included New York City, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, San Antonio, London (Beaux Arts Gallery) and the Crawford in Cork (1940). In 1924, he won first prize at the Aonach Tailteann exhibition in Dublin for his painting The Old Quarry.
He was listed as a member of the advisory board of editors of the short-lived Irish Review (1934) which included George Lennon (1900-1991) of Dungarvan, former commanding officer of the West Waterford IRA Flying Column (1919-1921) as business manager. At this time, either in Taos, New Mexico or New York City, he most likely met “IRA intellectual” and author (On Another Man’s Wound and The Singing Flame) Ernie O’Malley. The late 1930s also found him in Bermuda.
After an illness of two years he died in New York City in 1946.
A 2002 -2003 exhibit of his paintings was held at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York. A 2010 exhibit at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, New York included Power-O’Malley paintings from the collections of granddaughter Marietta Whittlesey and Ivan Lennon. Peter Murray, Curator of the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery in Cork, remarked that “in many ways, Power O’Malley is one of the forgotten artists of Ireland in the twentieth century…The capacity of Ireland so easily to forget those who have emigrated is perhaps unsurprising in a country that saw millions emigrate to the United States in the nineteenth century, only to witness a similar, if less desperate, mass exodus in the twentieth….”