Royal Academy and the Fraserian Circle

The young Daniel Maclise arrived in London in the late summer of 1827 and prepared his drawings for admission as a probationary student. He was finally admitted to the Royal Academy as a student of Painting in April 1828. In London Maclise found himself among Cork intellectuals and writers. He always enjoyed the company of writers since the days of Bolster's Magazine in his native Cork, and he now found himself in the company of men who appreciated his drafting skills and who knew where he came from. There was Dr William Maginn, the wild, Classically-trained editor of Fraser's Magazine, Crofton Croker, the folklorist who worked at the Admiralty and who was in continuous correspondence with Robert Sainthill in Cork, Rev. Francis Mahony, the famous 'Father Prout' of 'The Bells of Shandon', and the poet 'L.L.L.', Miss Landon, whose work had been published by Bolster's Magazine. This was heady and stimulating company for the rather over-protected and fussed-over Maclise. These authors were members of the successful Fraserian circle of writers who met regularly at the headquarters of Fraser's in Regent Street, London.

While a probationer and student at the RA, Maclise's reputation was enhanced enormously by the two lithographed drawings of the London debuts of Charles Kean at Drury Lane and the violinist Paganini. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibition in 1829 and was awarded the Academy's silver medal for history drawing. In 1831 he was awarded the gold medal in history painting of the Academy for his ambitious work Choice of Hercules. Maclise travelled to Ireland a year later and painted two famous paintings associated with his Irish material: All Hallows Eve (or Snap Apple Night) and The Installation of Captain Rock. The first painting arose from a great party given at Blarney by Fr Matt Horgan and the latter work was based on the composite, symbolic figure who led sworn societies and agrarian unrest in Ireland.

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