The following was submitted by Nowell Guffey, Foothills Fine Art:
He was predominantly a painter of unspoiled natural landscapes and lifelike depictions of waterfowl and other wildlife, with his earlier landscapes showing some impressionist elements.Hugh Cecil Charles Monahan was born in Dublin, Ireland on September 1, 1914, son of a high court judge of the Indian Civil Service, and spent most of his early childhood in India. To attend school , he was sent back to England, where he eventually studied History at Pembroke College in Cambridge, and Art at the Royal Hibernian Academy. Graduating with a Masters degree, he nevertheless chose not to try and make a living with his art, but joined the Indian Army as an officer.
Monahan served for two and a half years in the Ghurka Brigades, and during World War II, he fought with the British Army in the Italian and Middle East campaigns. He returned to England a hero but under severe shell shock, and after receiving some treatment, he took up painting again, attending the Slade School of Fine Arts at night, and holding down a job at University College during the day.
In 1949, he was able to devote himself to his art full-time, exhibiting at the Waddington Galleries in Dublin in 1950, and the British Bird Art exhibit at the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery in 1954. He served as President of the Wildfowler's Association of Great Britian and Ireland from 1953 to 1956, and was co-author of The Wildfowler's Year in 1953.
In 1956, after several transatlantic trips by himself, Monahan and his family left England for Vancouver, Canada, where he had found his favorite subject in the unspoiled landscape of the Canadian West. For many years he traveled throughout Canada, with his brushes, easel and camera, his hunting dog by his side. He painted coastal scenes, Canada Geese on the Prairies, and Musk Ox in the high Arctic. Five of his dioramas commissioned by the National Museum of Nature in the 1960s, are still on display. He exhibited among others in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Calgary, Alberta.
Monahan served on the first Board of Directors for the George Reifel Waterfowl Sanctuary, and was a member of the Federation of British Columbia Naturalists, and the British Columbia Waterfowl Society. He worked tirelessly on behalf of Ducks Unlimited and other conservation organizations.
Hugh Monahan died of a heart attack on his last painting trip, on November 20, 1970, his yellow Labrador retriever Happy by his side.