Portrait photograph of William Leech
Taken from 'William John Leech : an Irish painter abroad' by Denise Ferran
National Gallery of Ireland, 1996
Dublin-born William Leech is regarded today as one of the finest Irish painters influenced by the Impressionists. Leech studied painting at the Metropolitan School of Art before transferring to the RHA schools, where he was apprenticed to Walter Osborne. In 1901 he moved to Paris, and then began a long association with the Brittany coastline painting the people, traditional costumes, interiors of houses and rugged landscapes particularly around the port and region of Concarneau. He continued to exhibit at the RHA while living in France, and continued to show his works in Dublin throughout his life. A prolific worker, in sixty-eight years of artistic production he only missed ten exhibitions held by the RHA. Settling in England in 1919, he continued to revisit France particularly Grasse and Cagnes-sur-Mer. His paintings are characterised by an interest in the nature of light and colour, fusing some of the new abstract principles of flattened space into a figurative, post-impressionist template.