Irish Potato Famine Bridget O'Donnel

Irish Potato Famine Bridget O'Donnel

The black and white depiction was created in 1849 and was published in the Illustrated London News by an unknown artist. It presents a woman and her two children in poor conditions.

In the foreground you can see a woman standing with her two children in front of the target group. She wears one big cloth which envelops her upper body to her knees with means of a cord made of textile. The tagrag, covering her, is old and threadbare. Obviously is that her shoulder-length hair is ruffled and dirty. It has to be mentioned that she is very thin and has dark circles around the eyes. Apart from that, her and her children’s corners of mouth are down and open. In addition, she is barefoot like the daughters. Looking straight, she touches with the right and the left hand the backs of each daughter. Both are only as tall as the mother’ s haunch. The girl being griped by the right hand, is turned to the woman and that is why she only can be seen in profile. In contrast her sister stands towards the target group as the mother does. Each of them wears a headscarf and a tagrag similar to a cloak which reaches their knees as well. They have the shoulder-length and a kind of curly hair in common. In profile, the legs’ bones can be recognized clearly. They are located close to their mother. Beyond, shadows are positively perceived. The light comes from the upper right corner, which is conclused by the course of the shadows.

Based on the clothing and the outward appearance, the characters come from miserable circumstances. They have not any possibility of washing or of cleaning their “cloaks”. The mal- and undernutrition will be noticeably if one has a closer look to the face, the legs’ and the arms’ bones. Moreover, the mother and her children are discontent and weakened probably because of the grievously inhuman situation they are in which is proved by the facial gestures. This expresses a gloomy and stifling atmosphere.

This depiction has to convey the painful truth of the Great Famine in Ireland. It’s intention is to show the suffering of the Irish during the disaster.