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Rodrigo Moynihan
(1910 — 1990)

Born in Tenerife in the Canary Islands in 1910, Rodrigo Moynihan’s family relocated to London in 1918. The artist began his artistic education at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1928. His talent for painting and his early exploration of abstract art led Moynihan to be considered among the foremost artists of the Objective Abstraction movement in the early 1930s. As his career developed, so did Moynihan’s approach to painting. In around 1937 Moynihan began to associate with the Euston Road School, adopting the social realism style popular with proponents of the School. During the Second World War, between the years 1940 to 1943, the artist served in the Royal Artillery. Following an injury, Moynihan left the British Army and was commissioned to serve as an Official War Artist. Among his most enduring works are those representing the work of the Auxiliary Territorial Service which depict the efforts of those on the home front in a distinctive style of realism. After the War, his talent as a portraitist was in high demand and whilst serving as a teacher, Moynihan was commissioned to produce numerous official portraits for public figures such as then Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) in 1946 and Prime Minister Clement Attlee in 1947. Moynihan served as Professor of painting at the Royal College of Art from 1948 to 1957. Following his resignation of the position Moynihan abandoned his focus on realism, choosing to return to his early love of abstraction. During this time Moynihan lived and worked extensively in Europe and North America.


In 1971 the artist began to explore figurative painting once again, primarily working on large-scale still life compositions. He was elected full Academician of the Royal Academy in 1979. In the 1980s Moynihan continued his prolific output of portraiture, most notably painting portraits of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher between 1983 and 1985, and Dame Peggy Ashroft in 1984. The artist died in 1990. His work is represented in a variety of collections throughout Britain, including that of the Imperial War Museum.