About John Schwatschke
John SCHWATSCHKE is an Irish-born (Dublin, 1943) portrait painter of Austro-Irish parents. His original ambition was to be a concert pianist and composer, and he gave three piano recitals of classical works and his own compositions in Waterford, Vevey and Tours. However, his friendship with the Irish President de Valera (whom he painted as Chancellor of the National University) after leaving school, led to the President persuading him to “do one thing and do it well”, which he thought should be art. Schwatschke took this advice and continued to record his works meticulously.
Meanwhile, his business career, after studying Architecture in Dublin, led to a management position in the Middle East, where he managed, as Project Manager, two Saudi-German joint ventures (SR15m and subsequently SR20m) , working for the King’s banker at Jeddah. However, he maintained a studio in Provence (1970-1979) where he was a neighbour of Picasso in Mougins, and where Le Musée Schwatschke was later established for the benefit of the village of Valbonne. However, government restrictions prevented the project from being completed and it was built instead near the artist’s home at Carlow (opened 1976 by the Austrian ambassador, closed 1994).
The artist returned to Ireland to look after his elderly parents in their final years, and in 1996 resumed painting full time. Since then, his caricature works have become very popular on the Irish and London fine art markets. In his formal academic portraiture the artist has been patronised by President de Valera of Ireland, Ingrid Bergman, Cyril Cusack, Noel Purcell, Prince Philip (the 1979 portrait), Archbishops Simms and McAdoo of Dublin, Robert Mitchum, Lunia Czechowska (Modigliani’s model) and many others in Europe and USA.
To date the artist has produced 2,200 paintings and bronze sculptures, all of which are recorded in the archives of Le Musée Schwatschke.
Publications: “Interview with the Artist” Z. Medlow, 1994
“Schwatschke: Biography & Catalogue Raisonné of the first 1,000 Works: Mary Robertson, Minerva Press, London / Washington, 1996.
Quote: A.G. Rothenberg, New York: “There is no doubt that the artist did achieve a final product of his work, notably in the caricature series. In the final analysis it can be fully thrown open to criticism, and is a body of work to be reckoned with on the international fine art market. The choice of subject and the depiction of feeling in his portrayal of his subjects are special, and show it comes from an individual hand. It is an autograph of the artist’s character and spirit.”