Profile on the sculptor and illustrator from Holywood, Co Down
Sophia Rosamond Praeger was born in April 1867, the daughter of a linen exporter originally from The Hague. With her brother Robert Lloyd Praeger (later a famous naturalist and director of the National Library of Ireland), she attended Sullivan Upper school at Holywood, Co Down. Following a period at the Government School of Art in Belfast, she attended Slade in London at the age of 17.
By 1895, Praeger was back in Belfast, working from a studio at 1 Donegall Square West, then purchasing her own studio in Holywood. In addition to illustrating children’s books and providing botanical illustrations for her brother’s work, she exhibited sculptural works throughout Ireland and Britain. Working mostly in plaster, but also in marble, terracotta and stone, her whimsical, arguably sentimental studies of children found wide local acceptance.
Examples of Praeger’s work can be seen in the Ulster Museum and the Ulster Folk Museum, as well as the Royal Victoria Hospital, St Anne’s Cathedral, the Ulster Hospital and the Queen’s University of Belfast. Johnny the Jig, a bronze figure of a boy playing an accordion, is in Holywood.
Rosamond Praeger died in April 1954
Dictionary of Twentieth Century Irish Artists (2002) by Theo Snoddy; Irish Women Artists From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day (1987) edited by Ryan-Smolin, Mayes and Rogers; Art in Ulster 1: 1557-1957 (1977) edited by John Hewitt; The Arts in Ulster (1951) edited by Sam Hannah Bell et al.