A Playful Postcard

A postcard with blue paper and handwritten text signed by Mainie Jellett. The card has a small illustration in the top right corner of a robin sitting on a branch with berries.
Part of the Irish Archives

Mainie Jellett & Margaret Clarke

Mary Harriet "Mainie" Jellett (1897 - 1944) was an Irish painter and strong promoter and defender of modern art in Ireland. Margaret Clarke (1884–1961) was a successful portrait and subject painter. Both artists' lives were entwined in various ways after they met as students of William Orpen at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin. They developed a friendship and Jellett later gave Clarke’s son David private painting lessons.

A Productive Friendship

Jellett was central to the establishment of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art (IELA) in 1943 and was elected chairman. the exhibition committee comprised Margaret Clarke, Evie Hone, Fr. Jack Hanlon, Norah McGuinness, Louis Le Brocquy, Elizabeth Curran, Ralph Cusack and Laurence Campbell. Soon after founding the IELA, Jellett became seriously ill and died in 1944. At the time of Clarke’s death, in 1961, she had been cataloguing the work of Jellett.

In this short postcard from Jellett to Clarke, dated 1937, Jellett thanks Clarke for her recent card. She writes that she will visit on Monday about ‘4p.m. or a little after’, following some tasks, including work relating to the ‘catalogue for the Dublin Painter’s show’. She includes a playful illustration of a robin. Although short, the card offers insight into the artists’ friendship and work together.



Mary Clare O'Brien, HW Wilson Fellow

Published online: 2022