"In the strange micro
macrocosm of Dublin I
had found you could achieve
all sorts of things, especially
if you were a foreigner. And
it infinitely provided scope
for an amateur to dare enter
into and embark upon a
career in the world of art."


J.P. Donleavy from
J.P. Donleavy's Ireland...


If you have further
information on Donleavy's
life and work as an artist,
please pass it along to add
it to this page. All sources
will be fully credited.


Before focusing upon writing as his main creative outlet, J.P. Donleavy painted,
working in oils and watercolor, having a reputation (as with his writing later) of
being ribald and outrageous. He was also known for rushing newly painted oils
to galleries before the paint was completely dry. Donleavy has continued to paint
since his early days in Dublin, giving shows from time to time and selling works
from his estate in Ireland. He illustrated his book The Unexpurgated Code...with
pen and ink drawings and some of his work is shown in photographs in the
autobiographical books, J.P. Donleavy's Ireland and The History of the
Ginger Man.

I have not found much information on Donleavy's painting career. The two
autobiographical books mentioned earlier speak of his first two shows, both given
in the early 50s at 7, St. Steven's Green Gallery, Dublin, and both books show
photos of works done during this period. One piece purchased during Donleavy's
early painting career ended up not on a collector's wall but was used to patch a hole
in a farm fence. Announcements for the St. Steven's Green Gallery shows were
featured in John Ryan's short-lived but important magazine, Envoy, which was
first to publish Donleavy, Brendan Behan and many others in the post-war Dublin
literary scene. As mentioned in the brief background sketch on the
JPD Bio page,
Donleavy had made some progress in gaining recognition as a painter in Dublin
but was snubbed by the major galleries in London, being told he'd have to be
famous in order to have his work shown there. Soured on the art world after this
rejection, Donleavy switched from painting to writing as his primary career, although
he still paints and gives shows, albeit rarely. See
JPD News for recent art events.

Ronald Sauer, a diplomat and Donleavy fan from Holland was kind and generous
enough to send the photo below of a set of three sketches for possible covers for
The Ginger Man done by Donleavy that he purchased at a gallery in Belfast.
Ron has said he will try to dig up more information as to the gallery's name and
date of the exhibition. Although Ron is not particularly eager to sell this set of
Donleavy originals, he will consider serious offers.
Email Ronald Sauer.


Early Ginger Man cover concepts by Donleavy courtesy of Ronald Sauer

Another gallery show I've been able to document was given at the Godolphin Art Gallery,
Dublin, September 1986. Pictured below are the front and back covers of the program for
the show which was comprised of 138 works, oils and watercolors. Titles and dimensions
of the pieces are listed in the program but no selling prices.


Front & back covers of Godolphin Gallery Show, September 1986, Dublin.

As more Donleavy art information is discovered, it will be added to this page.

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