Visual Arts

Doreen (Dairine) Vanston

Doreen (Dairine) Vanston  was born 19 October 1903 in Dublin, daughter of John S. B. Vanston, solicitor, and Lilla Mary Vanston (née Coffey), sculptor.

Dairine Vanston studied art at Goldsmith’s College, London, and under Roger Bissière (1886–1964) at the Académie Ranson, Paris. The Paris school had a definable, lasting effect, shown in her independent approach, her flair for primary colours, and the strong Cubist influence. She belonged, like Mainie Jellet, Evie Hone, and Norah McGuinness, to what the critic Brian Fallon has called the ‘Franco-Irish generation of painters who looked to Paris’ (Irish Times, 16 July 1988).

In 1926, while still in Paris, she married de Padilla and lived briefly in Italy before settling in San José, Costa Rica, where her work developed tropical, highly toned colours in her paintings. After the break-up of her marriage, which left her with one son, she returned to Paris c.1933 and studied with Bissière’s friend André Lhote (1885–1962). In 1935 she exhibited seventeen paintings, mostly Costa Rican landscapes, at Daniel Egan’s gallery in Stephen’s Green.

When the second world war broke out she was living in the south of France but escaped to London in 1940 and then to Dublin. In Dublin she met English artist Basil Rakoczi and became associated with the White Stag Group in Dublin. She showed with them for the first time in November 1941 at a group show of twenty-four artists, which included Patrick Scott. In 1945 she exhibited again in London at the White Stag exhibition of young Irish painters at the Arcade gallery, Old Bond St.

After the war, in 1947, she spent nearly a year in Costa Rica, but otherwise she lived and worked in Dublin. She exhibited works at the first Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943; the Exhibition of Independent Artists in 1960, landscapes at the 1970 Independent Artists show were commended by the Irish Times for their ‘vibrant, almost tropical colour, controlled with a distinctly French finesse and intelligence’ (19 Dec. 1970).

In her last years Dairine Vanston showed at the Figurative Image exhibitions in Dublin and was one of the first painters to be chosen for Aosdána. She died at a nursing home in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, on 12 July 1988.

Biography text by Brigid Hourican from the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

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