Crawford Art Gallerypermanent collection

The Consultation
The Consultation
Irish School
Oil on canvas
69 x 80cm


Presented by Dr Edmund Murphy
The Consultation was painted in 1917 during the First World War and just a year after the 1916 Irish uprising. This time frame may suggest that the seated man who is reflected in the mirror could be an army officer delivering news of a bereavement. Whatever news the note contains, the woman's solemn expression indicates that it is certainly unwelcome. We notice that the table is only set for one person, and the empty chair in the distance also suggests an absence. The woman's face is almost a silhouette and her clasped hands add to the air of resignation. Sheehan masterfully draws us into this scene, allowing us to suggest our own narrative.

The device of including further figures reflected in a mirror has a long tradition in art history. Here Sheehan uses it to distance the figures and to isolate and emphasise the woman's sadness. His use of dark tones and restrained colour also suggest that Sheehan may have studied at reproductions of paintings by Manet and Velazquez.

William Sheehan
Irish School

William Sheehan was born in Cork in 1894, and studied at the Crawford School of Art, then at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin. He was living at Great William O'Brien Street, Cork, when he exhibited three portraits (of a young lady, and a young gentleman) at the RHA in 1916 and 1917. He was the first holder of the Gibson Bequest Travelling Scholarship to Madrid in 1923. Unfortunately he died that same year, aged only twenty-nine. An exhibition of his works was held at the Crawford Gallery in 1924.

Cork Art Galleries Catalogue 1958
Information also supplied by Mr. Charles M. Clarke

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