Game of Checkers
Aloysius O'Kelly lived
from 1851 to 1926, around Dublin, Ireland.
Artist Aloysius O'Kelly
The Irish born artist Aloysius O'Kelly
had virtually been forgotten in Ireland as
he had immigrated to the USA. Later on in
life he began an interest in art and from
that period had been reborn.
ca. 1875, O'Kelly moved to Paris
to study under Bonnet and Gérôme
at the École des Beaux-Arts and
was therefore one of the first Irish artists
in Brittany, which offered the young artist
picturesque villages, attractive fishing
ports, splendid local costume and a dramatic,
rugged coastline as wonderful subjects for his paintings.
Game of checkers artist Aloysius O'Kelly
exhibited his Breton scenes in Dublin and London
in the late 1870's and again in the mid 1880's.
O'Kelly's painting varied in subject,
manner and quality that no definitive style
could be easily associated with his work
and for the same reason, it was rather
difficult to establish a chronology within his artwork.
Aloysius O'Kelly's paintings of the
1880's reflected variations of themes in
Realism and plain air scenes in the 'square
brush' style; however, some of his
work also depicted Pre Raphaelite subjects
and light 'impressionistic' harbor
At other times, O’Kelly would revert to
somber, heavy moods in scenes with black shadows
that were reminiscent of Verlat or he would depict
academic Egyptian subjects with the precise draftsmanship
of Gérôme; it was almost as if the
artist chose a style that reflected both the theme
and mood of the composition he wanted to portray.
There was an odd dichotomy in the Irish artist’s work
for some of his paintings were skilful and sensitive while others
were rather awkward or heavy handed.
In the mid 1880's, Aloysius O'Kelly traveled
to Egypt where he painted genre scenes
of bazaars, mosques, streets and deserts
in Cairo and the surrounding area and these
themes were reflected in his paintings
during the following years.
Players’ (The Checkers Players)
of 1889 clearly depicted this motif where
he portrayed each game of checkers player
in a pose relevant to the game around the
checkerboard; he also used a recession from
finely modeled and richly highlighted figures
in the foreground to the shadowy, somber
tones of the background creating both depth
in the composition and a focus on the checkers game.
The warm colors of the traditional clothes, set off
by rich whites and the delicate patterning of the carpet
complemented the mood of the leisurely motif and created
an image of casual moment in time during this historical period in Egypt.
The Draughts/Checkers Players,
by artist Aloysius O'Kelly.