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 Michael Angelo Hayes  (1820 - 1877)

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Lived/Active: Ireland/England      Known for: military subject and equestrian painting-watercolor

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
John Poyntz, 5th Earl Spencer (1835-1910) with the Ward Union Hunt, 1877.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Michael Angelo Hayes (Watercolourist, Equestrian Art) (1820–1877)

Born in Waterford, the son and pupil of the Tipperary watercolour miniaturist Edward Hayes RHA, it was clear from his christening that he was expected to become an artist.  Fortunately, Hayes junior was a talented draughtsman, and by his late teens had acquired something of a reputation as a painter of horses and military subjects.

He began showing at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1837, then for three years 1840-2.  In 1842, he was appointed Military Painter-in-ordinary to the Lord Lieutenant.  He passed the next few years in London, where he exhibited watercolours at the New Society of Painters, of which he was elected an Associate Member in 1848 - the same year he made his one and only contribution to the Royal Academy.

Returning to Dublin, Hayes resumed exhibiting at the RHA, at the same time becoming involved in its administration.  He was elected an Associate member in 1853, a full Academician the following year, and Secretary in 1856.  The affairs of the Academy were totally disorganized at the time, inducing Hayes and others to resolve the situation.  His efforts to reform the institution and secure its finances met with entrenched opposition from older members, which resulted in Hayes being removed from his post, although he was successfully reinstated in 1861.

Not long afterwards he was appointed secretary to the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Peter McSwiney, his brother-in-law) and later became City Marshal in 1867.  He continued as Secretary of the RHA until he resigned in 1870, and continued showing until 1874.

He died prematurely in 1877, in a tragic drowning accident at his home. 

Probably the best 19th century painter of animals in Ireland, Hayes was most accomplished as a watercolourist, although he occasionally used oils.  Most of his works were of military scenes in which horses could be introduced.  Hayes made a special study of horses in motion, and in 1876 published his conclusions in an illustrated pamphlet, The Delineation of Animals in Rapid Motion.  One of his Dublin paintings - Sackville Street, Dublin, depicted a view of Dublin’s premier street in the 1850s.  (After Independence, it was renamed O’Connell Street in 1924, in memory of Daniel O'Connell (1775—1847) the "Liberator".) The painting is a documentary of social life in Dublin.  It achieved widespread popularity when reprinted as a lithograph.

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