The F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio has announced that they have successfully purchased ‘Study for Princess Macha III’, a bronze sculpture by F.E. McWilliam, for their permanent collection.
A total of 50% of the funding was secured through the Art Fund, The Northern Ireland Museum’s Council and The Friends of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio.
The work, which dates from 1957, is the most accomplished of three studies that McWilliam cast for his first major public sculpture, Princess Macha of the Golden Hair of the House of Ulster (244cm).
Princess Macha was commissioned by the architect Eugene Rosenberg for Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry/Londonderry, which he designed in 1957. This study was in the Rosenberg’s private collection, highlights of which were sold at auction in London in November 2014.
The sculpture was valued at £24,000 prior to the auction, however, the Council were able to purchase the piece at only £10,720.
F.E. McWilliam (1909 - 1992) was born in Banbridge and spent his formative years in the town before leaving to study in London at the Slade School of Fine Art.
A contemporary and friend of Henry Moore, McWilliam made his name in London and established a reputation as one of the most important sculptors of his generation.
Princess Macha represents one of the few occasions when McWilliam engaged with explicitly Irish subject matter.
A figure from Irish mythology, she was associated with founding the first hospital in Ireland, at Armagh, in 300BC.
Study for Princess Macha III, is on permanent display at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery from Monday February 2 2015.