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John O'Shea

 (1876 - 1956)
John O'Shea was active/lived in California.  John OShea is known for landscape, marine, figure, portrait painting.

John O'Shea

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for John O'Shea


O'Shea, born in Ballintaylor, Dungarvan (Waterford County), Ireland on October 15, 1876, came to the United States when he was about twenty years of age.  In New York City, he was a student at the Adelphi Academy and at the Art Students League, under George Bridgman (1864-1943), author of Constructive Anatomy.  O'Shea went to Pasadena in 1913 where his works were quickly exhibited in one-man shows. Two years later, he moved to Laguna Beach and in 1917 he moved again, this time to Carmel Highlands, where he became involved in Carmel and San Francisco arts organizations. 

After a trip to New York, where his canvases were featured in a Kingore Galleries exhibition, O'Shea married Molly Pollock Shaughnessy. The couple established residence back in Carmel Highlands in a new home, which they named "Tynalacan." O'Shea traveled to Arizona, to the South Pacific, to Mexico, and to Hawaii; each exotic location provided material for his paintings.  He remained an active member of the Carmel Art Association, where he was elected president in 1937 and 1938.  In the late 1940s, O'Shea ceased painting but was remembered in his obituary (Carmel Pine-Cone Cymbal, 3 May 1956) as "one of Carmel's most distinguished artists." His death in Carmel was on April 20, 1956.

O'Shea was admired for his tendency to experiment using a "fresh and vigorous" approach (Cravens, 1934). His coastal scenes are dominated by the rich, highly saturated deep blues that we associate with California impressionism. O'Shea, however, went beyond broken color and devised a bold, thick impasto and abstracted forms in a post-impressionist manner.  His jagged edges, sharp contours, and outlined forms all lie outside the bounds of impressionist practice.

Cravens, Junius, "O'Shea, after Six Years among South Seas Natives, Desert Indians, Exhibits at Palace," San Francisco News, 28 April, 1934; Moure, Nancy Dustin Wall and Lyn Smith, Dictionary of Art and Artists of Southern California before 1930 [1975]. Glendale, CA: 1984, p. 184; Nelson-Rees, Walter A., John O'Shea, 1876-1956: The Artist's Life As I Know It. Oakland, CA: WIM, 1985; Hughes, Edan Milton, Artists in California 1786-1940. San Francisco: 1986, pp. 341-342; Westphal, Ruth Lily, ed. Plein Air Painters of California: The North. Westphal Publishing, 1986, pp. 136-141; Gerdts, William H., Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting, 1710-1920. New York: Abbeville Press, 1990, vol. 3, p. 288; Gerdts William H. and Will South, American Impressionism. New York: Abbeville Press, 1998, pp. 83, 261.

Submitted by Richard H. Love and Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for John O'Shea
Born in Ballintaylor, County Waterford, Ireland, John O'Shea was a landscape, figure, portrait and fantasy painter whose bold, vibrant work was regarded as relatively modern among his contemporaries.

At age 16, O'Shea immigrated to New York City where he studied at the Adelphi Academy and the Art Students League and worked as an engraver at Tiffany & Company. In 1913, he moved to Pasadena, California for four years and then settled in the Monterey area and had studios in Carmel and Pebble Beach. He was President and Director of the Carmel Art Association.

He traveled widely for subject matter: Tahiti, South Seas, Hawaii, Arizona, and Mexico, but especially painted the Monterey coast. With a Post-Impressionist style similar to Van Gogh, he painted primarily in oil but was skilled in watercolor and charcoal.

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel
John O'Shea was born in Ireland and immigrated to New York at the age of 16, where he studied at the Adelphi Academy and the Art Students League. O'Shea moved to the Monterey Peninsula around 1917, where he was busy in the local art community, serving as the President of the Carmel Art Association. O'Shea is remembered for his wide travels in search of subject matter.

Painting in both watercolors and oils, O'Shea painted Hawaii, Tahiti, Mexico, and the Southwest, as well as the Carmel-Monterey area.

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About  John O'Shea

Born:  1876 - Ballintaylor, County Waterford, Ireland
Died:   1956 - Carmel, California
Known for:  landscape, marine, figure, portrait painting

Essays referring to
John O'Shea

Painters of Grand Canyon