Plein Air Painting

Frank O'Meara was one of the most noted Irish painters in the Plein-Air or Open Air style. This type of painting was based on spontaneous sketching from nature. It began in the later decades of the eighteenth century but it was greatly developed in the nineteenth century by a series of artists, colonies such as those found at Barbizon and at Grez-sur-Loing in France. Rousseau was one of the most prominent members of the Barbizon School. The artists at Barbizon rejected the classical conventions of formal landscapes in favour of the depiction of natural scenes using a freer technique. Their legacy can be found in the Plein-Air landscapes of the Impressionists. The Plein-Air painting which was developed at Grez-sur-Loing was in a different style to that at Barbizon. It depicted close-up studies of villagers in sharply observed settings. Frank O'Meara belonged to a new generation and was one of the first artists to paint in the Plein-Air style practiced at Grez-sur-Loing.

O'Meara though belonging to the group who worked at Grez-sur-Loing, he nevertheless had qualities which were particularly his own and which distinguished his paintings from the work of his contemporaries , Lavery and Stott. He preferred to use a paler, more subdued tone and to paint autumnal subjects. His mood was often melancholic and solitary and often showed that he was influenced more so than any of his companion artists by the Pre-Raphaelite painters, particularly Millais.

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