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 Maurice Canning Wilks  (1910 - 1984)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom/Ireland      Known for: landscape, portraits, genre-paintings, drawings in pen and ink, pencil and chalk.

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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.

Maurice Wilks RUA, ARHA (1910–1984)

The Irish landscape painter Maurice Wilks was born in Belfast in 1910.  He attended evening classes in drawing and painting at the Belfast School of Art, and managed to become a day pupil by winning the Dunville scholarship.  An exhibitor with the newly formed Ulster Academy of Arts*, he was duly elected an associate member in 1935.  During the next half century (1933-83), Wilks showed 35 works at the Royal Hibernian Academy* (RHA) in Dublin, most of them landscape paintings.  During his early career, one of his mentors was the landscape artist James Humbert Craig.  In 1946 Wilks exhibited several times at the Victor Waddington Galleries in Dublin.

Wilks' landscapes were mainly of Donegal, Antrim, Kerry and Connemara, although later he painted several highly sympathetic Dutch landscapes.  Critics remained divided about his artistry.  Some considered his work more populist and sentimental drawing room in style, while others praised his romantic spirit and sensitivity.  As well as landscape - in the form of oil painting and watercolour painting, - Wilks executed a number of portraits, genre-paintings and drawings in pen and ink, pencil and chalk.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Wilks exhibited mainly in Northern Ireland and North America, with solo exhibitions in Montreal and Boston, and in shows at Anderson and McAuley's, and at Magee Gallery in Belfast.  Towards the end of his career the Walker Art Gallery, in County Derry, also displayed his work.  Wilks' artworks were also represented at the inaugural meeting of the Ulster Watercolour Society in 1977, his last year for exhibiting at the RUA.

In 1978 after and absence of nearly thirty years, he returned to the Dublin exhibition scene. His main showing was at the Oriel Gallery in 1980, with thirty-five paintings, nearly all landscapes.  After Wilks' death in 1984, a retrospective exhibition was held at the Oriel. During his career, he was elected a full member of the Royal Ulster Academy and an associate member of the Royal Hibernian Academy.  His works are represented in collections throughout Northern Ireland, and in the Republic, notably: Ulster Museum, Belfast; Office of Public Works, Dublin; Limerick City Art Gallery.

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