The Rakes of Mallow

Stephen O'Driscoll


This cut and painted silhouette caricature is entitled “The Rakes of Mallow” and features two gentlemen who were prominent figures in the artist’s native city of Cork. The tall figure on the left with the umbrella holding aloft a bill, with further bills sticking out of his back pocket, is John George McCarthy. The shorter bearded figure displaying his heavy gold chains and wearing a bowler hat is Alderman Nagle. The silhouette has a story to tell but sadly the subtleties of the events recorded are lost to the modern audience.

John George McCarthy was a solicitor, the MP for Mallow 1875-1889, and a local historian. Indeed one of the bills in his pocket is entitled ‘History Cork’. The others read ‘Mallow Condensed Milk Company’ and ‘Patent Washing Soda Compy Limited Agency’. In partnership with James Scanlan, an auctioneer, McCarthy formed the Cork Opera House at a time when opera was hugely popular in the city.

Alderman John Nagle was the editor and proprietor of the Cork Herald and was elected Mayor of Cork in 1873. He died suddenly in 1888.

The figures are both cut out profile laid on card with colour detailing and a watercolour wash backdrop. The silhouette is housed in a period maple frame with a gilt slip. Noe backed with conservation board, the frame retains its old paper label for R & W Clarke, Carvers, Gilders, Artists Colormen, 40 & 41 Grand Parade, Cork.

In addition to being a lithographer, Stephen O’Driscoll was also a silhouette artist and a cartoonist often combining the latter two roles and often featuring prominent characters from his home town of Cork. He designed and printed the address presented to Queen Victoria on her visit to Cork. He died in 1895 aged 70.

Item Ref. 3835

Size: framed, 335 x 239mm (13⅛ x 9¼")