Martin Cregan (1788-1870)

Martin Cregan

A distinguished portrait painter, Cregan was one of the original founding members of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1823 and was elected president of the Academy in October 1832. In 1827 he painted a portrait of Francis Johnston, the esteemed Georgian architect and second President of the RHA (1824-29), who endowed the Academy with a house and gallery on Lower Abbey Street. This was subsequently destroyed by fire during the Easter Rising of 1916. When Cregan presented the portrait to the Academy, Henry Baker (1753-1836), Secretary, RHA, wrote to him expressing the Academy’s gratitude for the portrait.

Cregan was very involved with the artistic circles in London and became an influential figure in his own right. In 1930, his close friend and fellow portraitist, the Irish artist, Martin Archer Shee was elected president of the Royal Academy, London. Soon after his appointment, Shee wrote to Cregan, thanking him for his words to the Academy in his favour.

When Cregan commenced his presidency of the Academy, he became anxious that the quality of the Annual Exhibition was not up to standard. He wrote to his friend John Constable, the landscape painter, for assistance. Constable replied, agreeing to send him two pictures for inclusion in the Annual Exhibition.

A selection of items from the collection:

Letter from Henry Baker (1753-1836), Secretary, RHA to Martin Cregan, 3 April 1827
Presented by Elizabeth Ferguson, 1960

Letter from Martin Archer Shee (1769-1850) to Martin Cregan, 26 August 1830
Presented by Elizabeth Ferguson, 1960

Letter from John Constable (1776-1837) to Martin Cregan, 30 April 1834

Portrait photograph of Martin Cregan in his studio, [c.1865] (see above)
Presented, 2003