Paul Henry was born in 1876 in Belfast where he studied art before moving to Paris in 1898. Modern taste at times considers his work sentimental and romantic, portraying a 'chocolate-box' depiction of the West of Ireland. But look beyond the thatched cottages and you will find the harsh austerity of life on Achill Island in the early 20th century - the thankless toil of the peasant workers, the threatening thunder clouds looming (so characteristic of Henry's landscapes) and the barren, impenetrable landscape.
Henry's pale, limited palette completely belongs to his subject matter. There's no frills here. The image I have chosen of Killary Harbour at dawn looks like a simple one, but it completely draws me in: there is the subtle reveal of the ocean in the distance and the bold mass of rock at the fore; the light is exquisite while the colours remain muted; the land at first flat and devoid of detail begins to scream depth; and the water should be forcing huge reflections from the mountains but it defiantly doesn't. This piece is owned by the Ulster Museum, Belfast.
In the 1920s and 1930s Henry's popularity spread due to his images being used for railway posters. He lost his sight during the last decade of his life and died in 1958.