This portrait of a young woman, reputedly Miss Annie Callwell, dating to the 1840s, is a drawing in conte pencil on paper, by Sir Frederic William Burton (1816-1900). The artist, though born in Wicklow, spent his childhood at the seat of the Burton family in Clifden House, Corofin, and he retained affection for Clare throughout his life.
The portrait reputedly of Annie Callwell was offered at auction at Morgan O’Driscoll, Auctioneers and Valuers, County Cork in May 2021. The museum had no budget to make such a purchase and, with the encouragement of Dr Marie Bourke, we approached Friends of the National Collection of Ireland/FNCI for assistance. The work was subsequently donated to Clare Museum by the FNCI, the first time a work had been gifted by the FNCI and Clare Museum is deeply appreciative of the gift.
Who are the Friends of the National Collection of Ireland?
The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland was founded in 1924 by the painter Sarah Purser and a group of friends for the purpose of acquiring works of art and objects of historical interest and donating them to national and regional art galleries and museums throughout Ireland for the education and enjoyment of the public. The Friends are a registered charity for tax purposes (Charity No. CHY 5214).
During the year, the Friends organise visits to houses and places not usually open to the public in order to see their collections, as well as an annual garden party and a Christmas lunch and other events. Although in recent years many public museums and galleries in Ireland have established their own association of friends to assist their work, the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland are the only body with the aim of benefitting all museums and galleries throughout the island of Ireland and have been doing so for almost a century.
The Friends have presented to over 82 museums and institutions across Ireland over 800 works, dating from the 14th century to the 21st Century including paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, carvings, silver, textiles, stained glass, ceramics, books, manuscripts, and furniture.
We at Clare Museum would like to express our appreciation to the FNCI. The acquisition of Miss Annie Callwell added to our collection of Burton portraits and the museum now has three works by this artist so clearly associated with Clare.