Harry Kernoff (1900 – 1974)
Harry Aaron Kernoff was born in London to a Russian Jewish father and Spanish mother, and moved to Dublin in 1914. He fell into a deeply sympathetic relationship with Ireland, and dedicated most of his life to representing its people. Whilst working as an apprentice in his father’s furniture business, which would lead to his woodcuts, he took night classes at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. There, in 1923, he won the Taylor scholarship, and went on to exhibit at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) every year from 1926. He was elected RHA in 1936. Around this time he also had three solo shows at the Victor Waddington Galleries, and began to exhibit internationally in 1938. This included representing Ireland at world fairs in New York (1939) and Glasgow (1938), giving him international recognition.
As an art student his surrounding artists and teachers inspired him: Sean Keating, Patrick Tuohy and Maurice MacGonigal, to name a few. As they did, we celebrate his empathetic depictions of Irish life. Kernoff mastered genre painting in particular, as well as landscape, illustration, woodcuts, and portraits of literary figures and actors. He also designed sets and costumes for Dublin theatre productions. In the 1940s, Kernoff made many hundreds of miniature oil paintings. However because of the potency of his genre paintings and woodcuts, of street scenes and landmarks, we find that the illustrations he made to commemorate the Easter Rising epitomise the spirit of his life’s work.