Running for Shelter signed 'PAUL HENRY' (lower left) and inscribed 'No.14 RUNNING FOR SHELTER 30gns' (on the stretcher) oil on canvas 35.5 x 40.5 cm. (14 x 16 in.) Painted circa 1937-38
PROVENANCE: Private Collection, Channel Islands
EXHIBITED: Dublin, Combridge's Gallery, Recent Paintings by Paul Henry, from 12 November 1938, no.14
LITERATURE: S.B. Kennedy, Paul Henry, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2000, p.125 S.B. Kennedy, Paul Henry, with a catalogue of Paintings, Drawings, Illustrations, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2007, cat.no.979, p.291
'A novel subject as a Paul Henry picture... in the lowering clouds and less in the attitudes of the figures as they row their curraghs through the chill waves to safety' (Irish Times, 12 November 1938).
During the summer of 1938 Paul Henry was in Connemara gathering material for his annual exhibition at the Combridge Gallery, Dublin. His exhibition, always an eagerly awaited event, opened on 12 November and was well received by the press. The Irish Times (12 November, 1938), for example, noted his 'emotional response' to the landscape, his 'sense of being alone with nature', and singled out for mention his Running for Shelter picture which, in its depiction of men in curraghs making for safety, it thought was a rare introduction of figures into his work at that time. By now, with the domestic upheavals of recent years behind him, both his mood and his palette had lightened and the clear un-muddied colours and direct brushwork evident in Running for Shelter, were a result of his new circumstances.
The hardship of life in the west of Ireland at the time, which is a leitmotif in Henry's oeuvre, is clear from the efforts of the fishermen as they strenuously row their tiny craft into the safety of shallower waters before the arrival of the oncoming storm. As with many of Henry's pictures, Running for Shelter was almost certainly done from drawings made earlier, in which case the setting is probably the rocky outcrop of Gubalennaun near the village of Keel on Achill Island, where the artist lived for a number of years. The subject matter and treatment of the composition are similar to an earlier Henry picture, The Curragh, 1913-13 (Kennedy 2007, number 391).
We are grateful to Dr S.B. Kennedy for compiling this catalogue entry.