Thursday, 16 June 2011

What happened to the Joyce family portraits by John Comerford?

James Joyce says Leopold Bloom was born at 52 Clanbrassil Street, two doors down from a Comerford family home. But what happened to the Joyce family portraits by John Comerford? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today [16 June] is Bloomsday, and I was just considering some Comerford family connections with James Joyce.

According to the author of Ulysses, the family portraits he inherited from his father included a number of miniature portraits by the Kilkenny-born miniaturist and portrait painted, John Comerford (1770-1832), including his great-grandparents, James and Anne (McCann) Joyce, His grandparents, James and Ellen (O’Connell) Joyce, and his grandfather, James Joyce, as both a man and a boy. Other sources say he also inherited a portrait of his great-grandfather, Charles O’Connell.

He mentions these five works in a letter written to Frank Budgen in 1933, and claims the miniature paintings are the work of John Comerford of Cork (sic).

John Comerford (1770-1832), a self-portrait of the Kilkenny-born artist

When James and Nora left their flat at 34 rue des Vignes in October 1939 to live in the Hotel Lutétia, they left behind all their household possessions, including the family portraits.

Later, some time in the 1950s, some of these paintings ended up in the Poetry Collection in the Lockwood Memorial Library at the State university of New York in Buffalo.

However, in trying to catalogue the works of John Comerford, I have failed to find any copies of these paintings.

Does anyone know of any reproductions, or images on the web, so that I could add them to my study of John Comerford?