Harry Aaron Kernoff (1920-1974)
Miss Joan Wall (1920-2011), 1941
Pastel on paper, 78.3 x 63cm (framed only)
Signed, lower left: KERNOFF. 17.9-'41
Kernoff was born in London in 1900 but moved to Dublin at the age of 14. A member of the Studio Art Club, he exhibited at the RHA from 1926 until 1974 and was elected member in 1935. Kernoff captured the changing Irish society and painted generations of both prominent and ordinary Irish people. He circulated in Dublin’s literary and theatrical worlds, drawing and painting portraits and designing sets and costumes for the Dublin Drama League and the Little Theatre, South William Street.
This vibrant pastel drawing depicts Joan Wall, a young Dublin actress who grew up in Gardiner Place near Mountjoy Square. As a child she danced in shows at the Gaiety and Olympia theatres and later studied acting with the founding members of the Writers, Actors, Artists and Musicians Association which was the forerunner of Irish Actors Equity. Her brogher Eugene Wall set up a small theatre, ‘The Garrick’ in Parnell Square which closed in 1959. Following her marriage, her involvement in acting lessened although she did appear in a Dublin production of Mary Chase’s popular play, ‘Harvey’ around 1952. In 1961, Joan Wall moved to London with her family.
Although earlier in date, this portrait is similar in terms of quality and style to the portrait of Brendan Behan in the collection (NGI.3781).