Wednesday, March 5, 2014

OBIT | Mar. 13–Evie Hone (Personal Comments)

Portrait of Evie Hone (1894-1955) by HvS.
Collection of the National Gallery of Ireland.
© by HvS Estate–c/o
Eva Sydney (Evie) Hone died this day in 1955. She was born in Mount Merrion, Dublin on April 22, 1894. She won fame as an Irish artist, especially for her work with stained glass. The Hone family dates back to 1632 in Ireland and her artistic ancestors include:
  • Nathaniel Hone (1718-84), a British painter (and founder of the Royal Academy), and
  • Nathaniel Hone the Younger 1831-1917),  great-grandnephew of the better-known Nathaniel, and an Irish painter. 
She was the daughter of Joseph Hone, a distiller and founder of Minch and Co., and a director of the Bank of Ireland. Her mother was the daughter of Sir Henry Robinson, a lawyer.

In 1905, Hone suffered partial paralysis after a fall while assisting in Easter decoration for her local Church of Ireland parish.  She required extensive medical treatment and never fully recovered. Visiting Europe with her governess in 1911, she was deeply impressed by the basilica (the Papal Basilica) of St. Francis in Assisi, which helped stir her life-long interest in the relationship between art and Christianity.

Evie Hone's early influences were:
- The British artist Walter Sickert, who taught her at the Westminster Technical School in London in 1914.
- Fellow artist and friend for life Mainie Jellett, whom she met at Westminster Technical School.
- Semi-cubist painter and writer Andre Lhote, and then Albert Gleizes, the abstract cubist painter and theorist, both of whom taught Hone and Jellett in 1920 when they went to Paris together.

After these sorties to the Continent, Hone returned to Ireland to become influential in the 1920s in the modern art movement, through the Irish Exhibition of Living Art.

Her later influences include:
- Wilhelmina Geddes, who taught her stained-glass techniques.
- Hilda van Stockum (1908-2006), who was at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin in 1931-32, after having finished her studies in Amsterdam at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunst. HvS expressed admiration for Hone's earliest experiments with stained glass in 1931–and by Hone's report helped convince her to concentrate on this medium.
Crucifixion (top) and Last Supper
(bottom), Eton College Chapel

From 1931 to her death in 1955 Evie Hone produced many windows in Ireland, England and the United States, including:
- The East Window, created 1949-52, in the Eton College chapel, as shown at right.
- The Healing Arts, in the Washington National Cathedral.
- The Holy Family in St. John the Baptist Church, Blackrock.
- The Rose Window in the Holy Family Church in Ardara, Donegal, financed by a New York City resident who came from the area.
- My Four Green Fields in the Government Buildings in Ireland, originally commissioned for the Irish Government's Pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair and located in the CIE Head Office in O'Connell Street 1960-1983.

Originally a devout Anglican, Hone entered an Anglican convent in 1925 but withdrew. She converted to Catholicism in 1937. Evie Hone's religious impulses may have prompted her to try working in stained glass. Initially she worked as a member of the An Túr Gloine stained glass co-operative before setting up a studio of her own in Rathfarnham.

A retrospective 50 years after her death, "Evie Hone - A Pioneering Artist" at the National Gallery of Ireland used one of two well-known portraits of Evie Hone by HvS as the exhibition catalog cover. The other portrait was the subject of a lengthy article by Marie Bourke. Supported by Abbey Stained Glass Studios, the exhibition highlighted the key phases of the artist's career from her early abstract work through to her later stained glass pieces. It brought together some 25 works drawn from public and private collections around Ireland.

The many artists Hone studied with and befriended inform her work–the Continental avant-garde ideas and also Irish Christian art. In the 1930s her style of her compositions became more figurative. Her landscape scenes are noted for their vitality. Her great reputation rests largely on her intense stained-glass creations.


Evie Hone and Hilda van Stockum were very close both in their art and their religious evolution.  HvS's eldest daughter Olga Marlin says that Hone and van Stockum met through an Anglican priest from a Scottish clan, Fr. Colquhoun, of whom HvS painted a portrait that was prominently displayed in the Marlin house when we were growing up.

One year after Hone  converted to Catholicism in 1937, van Stockum followed her into the Catholic church, suggesting Hone's influence on her.  Possibly both Hone and van Stockum consciously turned away from the blandishments of abstract art as part of their embrace of Roman Catholicism, although van Stockum seems to have been little inclined in that direction as a young artist.

Evie Hone was chosen as godmother to Brigid Marlin, born 1936, who is also an artist. When HvS visited Ireland in 1951-1955, she accompanied Hone on a visit to Lourdes, near the end of Hone's life.

For more information about Hilda van Stockum's conversion to Catholicism, see her autobiographical ghost-post My Life and Religious Evolution.

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