Hogan's return to Ireland and his last days

In 1848 there was an insurrection at Rome, part of a Europe-wide republican and anti-monarchist revolt. Hogan feared these disturbances as they endangered his large family and interfered with the tranquility required by an artist in marble. At that time in Rome he was busy in his studio, working on monuments to the Bishop-elect of Cloyne, the Peter Purcell Memorial, the Amelia Curran memorial ordered by Lord Cloncurry for Saint Isadore's in Rome, and his Transfiguration. But he felt the call of home and home was Ireland.

The ten years after his return to Ireland were not very happy ones for John Hogan. He retained his studio in Rome where a number of commissions were still being completed, but Ireland after 1848 was trying to haul itself out of its Famine crisis. Contracts and commissions in monumental sculpture were few and far between and when they did arise they fell to members of the Royal Hibernian Academy or the Royal Academy. Hogan belonged to neither academy. He was also a perfectionist, used to working in a Roman atmosphere of fellow artists and educated travelers. And his perfectionism meant that he wouldn't compromise his personal vision to committees of any kind. He was also a frugal man and lacked the scheming, worldly ambition and aggression that is such a character trait of minor artists. He lived happily with his wife and family and his family life consoled him for the indifference of his native country. In the evenings he read stories to his assembled children, translating portions of each story into Italian for his wife as he went along. Yet one important old friend never forgot Hogan in these years and that was Dr Mullock, Bishop of Newfoundland, who commissioned the artist to make a number of works for his Cathedral at St John's, Newfoundland.

But the lack of commissions was a bitter blow. He was beaten to a commission for the Procathedral, Dublin, by Sir Thomas Farrell RHA, and his friend Benzoni was awarded the task of creating the Madonna and Child for St Audoen's, Dublin. When he failed to get the anticipated commission to make a sculpture in memory of Tom Moore he had a minor stroke; and when the commission to carve a statue of Daniel O'Connell for Limerick went to another artist he suffered a paralysis of the arm. Unwilling to protest or fight, he allowed failure to turn in on himself. This may certainly have caused his early death. In his essay on Hogan, C.P. Curran has noted the snobbery in new Irish Catholic circles that favoured work done overseas, while Lady Morgan claimed in her letter to the Athenaeum, on 10 April 1858, that the Protestant Ascendancy would not support Hogan because he was a "popish genius." By returning to Dublin, therefore, the sculptor Hogan fell on difficult times.

Hogan died on the 27 March 1858. His son finished his Dead Christ in the Dominican Church, Dublin, while the sculptor John Henry Foley did the work on Hogan's commission for Father Mathew for St Patrick's Street, Cork. After his death his widow was awarded a Civil List pension; and as late as the early 1900s his children were also awarded a similar pension by the British Government.

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