Victory of Faith: George St. Hare, Limerick Artist (1857-1933)

Limerick School of Art Alumnus

George St. Hare was the son of Ella and George Frederick Hare, a Methodist family who once lived at No.2 Pery Square. His father was a dental surgeon from Ipswich and his mother was from Co. Wexford.

The Hare family in the 1911 census
The Hare family home (and business) in the 1911 census

George was educated at the Limerick School of Art in the early 1870’s where he excelled and won a scholarship at the School of Art, Kensington. His most notable works were his portraits and nudist paintings. The most infamous was arguably the “Victory of Faith” (1891)

Racial displacement

Victory of Faith (1891)
Victory of Faith (1891) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

This painting supposedly depicts two Christian martyrs (virgins no less) in the ante-room of the Coliseum on the eve of their imminent death. But Joseph R. Roach looks past this simple explanation and sees this as a work of Victorian erotica, heavily influenced by Boucicault’s Octaroon, and thus a sort of slave spectacle involving racial displacement. Just like the character Zoe, who Boucicault “purified of her African blood” by having her commit suicide (which turns her body white), Roach sees a “White Goddess [rising] transcendent from the body of her black double”. Thus this painted scene, in parallel with the moral panic associated with the “white slaves” of the early twentieth century,

epitomises the interracial and sexual doubling whereby the “tragic” sale of white women displaces the representation of black slave sales.

Indeed the scene in Octoroon when Zoe is put on the auction block is a pointed example of surrogation as a form of cultural hijacking and denialism. As Roach writes “even from a slave sale, black people are excluded.”

Portrait Artist

George St. Hare was patronised by the wealthy Hoare family of the Stourhead estate and they commissioned him to paint a number of family portraits. One series was of Henry Colt Arthur Hoare,  the heir to the family estate.

Henry Colt Arthur Hoare (1888–1917), Aged 21. Painted in 1909.
Henry Colt Arthur Hoare, Aged 21. Painted in 1909.

Henry later joined the British army and fought in World War One as a Captain in the Dorset Yeomanry.

Henry Colt Arthur Hoare (1888–1917), at Stourhead in the Uniform of the 1st Queen's Own Yeomanry
Henry Colt Arthur Hoare at Stourhead in the uniform of the 1st Queen’s Own Yeomanry. Painted in 1914.

His unit took part in the Charge at El Mughar, Gaza, Palestine in 1917.

"The Charge of the Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Dorset Yeomanry at El Mughar, Palestine" by James Prinsep Beadle
“The Charge of the Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Dorset Yeomanry at El Mughar, Palestine” by James Prinsep Beadle. Painted in 1936.

He died during this action, aged 29 and he was buried at the Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt. His friend George St. Hare painted this tribute. You’ll notice that “Kismet” is etched on the tree to the left of the subject. Kismet means destiny/fate.

Henry Colt Arthur Hoare (1888–1917). Painted in 1917 or 1918.
Henry Colt Arthur Hoare (1888–1917). Painted in 1917 or 1918.

George St. Hare died in London in January 1933, and his death went unrecorded in Limerick.

Browse 14 paintings by George St. Hare (BBC)

 Further Reading

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