On the eve of the opening the exhibition ‘William John Leech: an Irish painter abroad’ at the National Gallery of Ireland, the debate over who painted ‘The Goose Girl’ continues.
'The Goose Girl' was acquired by the National Gallery in 1970 in the belief that it was painted in Brittany by Irish born artist William Leech. However in the context of the 120 Leech paintings on show in the National Gallery’s exhibition, it looks unlikely that the painting is a Leech.
Art critic Bruce Arnold is definite the painting was not a work by Leech as the brushwork is horizontal and not in his usual vertical style. Arnold thinks the artist responsible for the painting is the Sheffield born painter Stanley Royle. On close examination of the painting Arnold thinks he can see the letters ley and le indicating Stanley Royle's signature.
Denise Ferran, a Leech expert and co-ordinator of the exhibition at the National Gallery is not sure who painted the picture, but is now certain it was not Leech. Fionnula Croke of the National Gallery also accepts this version of the facts.
It’s looking rather doubtful that the painting is by Leech, evidence is suggesting that in fact he wasn’t the author of the painting.
An RTÉ News report by Michael O’Kane broadcast on 22 October 1996