Cathal Brendan O'Toole (1904-1991)
Cathal Brendan O'Toole was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1904. The exact date is unknown. O'Toole at 19 was a Captain in the revolutionary Irish Republican Army, operating in Scotland and sending arms, money, and men to the Irish revolutionists in 1922. He studied at the St. Endas College in Ireland which was directed at the time by the Brothers Pierce, one of whom, Patrick Pierce was the First President of the Irish Republic and both of whom were shot after the rebellion of 1916. O'Toole fought in the Irish Civil War against England and at 21 (1925) left the British Isles to come to the United States to paint (1)
Upon coming to America he settled in the New York. From here the information is sketchy. A Print Club of Rochester mini-bio says he studied under the great Hans Hoffman in the 1920's (2) This must have been from 1925-on and apparently it was a major influence for not long after he was awarded the Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship in 1934 at age 33. (1) But the date must be wrong because being born in 1904, he would have been only 30 year. Also in 1934 he is a student at the National Academy of Design and his work is exhibited in the 109th annual show. One of his works wins the Second Hallgarten Prize of $200.00. That same year he was invited to paint for two months on a Fellowship at the Tiffany Foundation at Oyster Bay, Long Island.
For three consecutive years of 1935, 1936, and 1937 O'Toole was invited to exhibit at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. The National Academy of Design also awarded him the First Hallgarten Prize in 1935 for his painting Conglomeration. He was invited by the Art Institute of Chicago to exhibit there in 1936. (1)
His work has been included at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Virginia Museum of Art, and in Paris with the Group of Anglo-American Artists in the Galerie De Paris at the Schola Cantorum, and with the 'Atelier 17' both in Prague and at the Gallery Quatre Chemins in Paris Also, in Paris while on his Traveling Scholarship he was given a one man exhibition of his works at the American Center.(l)
We also know that while he traveled and stayed in Paris he studied under the British artist Stanley Hayter. (2) In 1938 he was exhibited along with others artist at the Associated American Artist Exhibition on Madison Avenue in New York City. An original telegram from Grover Whalen, the force behind the 1939 World's Fair, asked O'Toole to join him for cocktails at Whalen's home on November 18th. Interestingly, the year is not printed on the telegram. But since it is dated November 18th, the assumption is that it is 1938. The telegram also had his address being 45-39 42nd St., L.I. City. This was crossed out and a more recent address of Queens Blvd. is noted. (3)
During this period of time he was an Associate of the National Academy of Design and lived in NYC during the war. O’Toole moved to Grandview-on Hudson in 1945 where he showed up in Grandview-on-Hudson signing a one year lease to rent a house at 25 River Road for $720.00 a month. (4) The house had a two car garage with a studio loft above it. He left the New York area going to Pennsylvania and accepted the position of chairman of the Art Department at Wilkes-Barre College in Pennsylvania where he remained for sixteen years. O’Toole relocated to Rochester, New York where he worked as an art director in television until his retirement in 1971. He continued to paint and make prints throughout his life. He died in Rochester in 1991. (5)
(1): Pamphlet describing the accomplishments and biography of Cathal O'Toole at the exhibition of artists at the Associated American Artists gallery, 1936.
(2): Mini-bio from the Print Club of Rochester web site, April 2003.
(3): Telegram to Cathal O'Toole, November 18th, 1938.
(4): Lease agreement between J. Fred Geist and Cathal O'Toole signed by O'Toole, May 1945.
All documents (except 2 & 5) and text from the estate of William & Roberta Geist.