in Paris, Françoise Henry studied at the École du Louvre under the
great celticist, Henri Hubert. Her first major publication Les Tumulus du Départment
de la Côte-dOr was a comprehensive study of Iron Age burials. She
studied Carolingian and medieval art with Emile Mâle and Henri Focillon
and it was her interest in medieval art that led her to Ireland and University
College Dublin. During a visit to Ireland in the late 1920s she saw the Ahenny
Crosses in County Tipperary which perhaps more than anything else attracted her
to the study of Irish art. In 1928 she published her first article on Irish art,
La chapelle de Cormac à Cashel.
career began in UCD as an exchange lecturer in the Department of French in 1934.
By the 1940s she was lecturing in Archaeology and European Art, working on a study
of Irish antiquities and accumulating a large collection of illustrations of Irish
art, mainly in the form of photographic negatives and prints. Some years later
Dr Henri became Director of Studies in Archaeology and the History of European
Painting. The nucleus of what is now the History of Art Department in University
College Dublin is to be found in the Purser-Griffith lecture series on European
painting which she began in 1934.
She carried out a considerable
amount of excavation work at Glendalough, at Iniskea off the Mayo coast, and elsewhere;
but she is primarily renowned as a scholar of early Irish art. Her first important
publication on the subject was La sculpture irlandaise in 1934. In 1940 she published
a major work entitled Irish Art, a study combining manuscripts, sculpture and
metalwork in brilliant synthesis. The culmination of her publishing career was
the three volume work in French and English which appeared between 1963 and 1970LArt
irlandais, Irish art in the early Christian period, during the Viking invasions,
and in the Romanesque period.
Dr Henri retired from UCD
in 1974, the year in which the Book of Kells appeared, reproductions from the
manuscript for which she wrote the text. Her final years were spent at her home
at Lindry in France where she died in 1982.
Collection transferred from the School of
Archaeology, University College Dublin which retains a collection of c.20,000
negatives and prints. A description of the photographic collection is available
at the Françoise