Prof Gerald E. Moira VPRWS (1867-1959)

The painter, muralist and illustrator Gerald Moira, now obscure, is of interest to these pages because of his Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist tendancies. He was born in London, the son of a Portuguese miniature painter, under the name Giraldo de Moura ('Moura' or 'Moira' is the site of a cork forest in Portugal), which he later anglicised. He studied painting at the Royal Academy Schools and then in Paris. He later worked in London, Middlesex and Edinburgh, where he held his professorship. He showed work at the Royal Academy from 1891.

Many of Moira's paintings were inspired by Rossetti, Burne-Jones and associated figures such as Swinburne, and were Pre-Raphaelite and allegorical in nature, featuring beautiful girls with spirits and decorative landscapes with figures and the odd faun, bathing scenes and the like.

Together with the sculptor F. Lynn Jenkins, Moira evolved a collaborative method of producing coloured bas relief friezes. The two would discuss the design, Moira would make the cartoon, Lynn Jenkins would produce the bas reliefs, and Moira would colour them.

Among much decorative work, he produced friezes for the Trocadero restaurant in London (1896), excellent wall decorations - perhaps - for All Saints Church, Margaret Street (among the 'must see' churches in London), murals and stained glass windows for the Old Bailey (1902-6), Stations of the Cross and large panels for St Pauls Knightsbridge (1921), and outside London, stained glass for the church at Stantonbury, Bedfordshire, Unitarian decorations in Liverpool (1900s) and decorative panels for City Hall, Bristol (1917). He also decorated P&O ships in the 1910s.

Moira also did some line illustrations, including swirly, art nouveau decorated pages in the 1890s, showing a good sense of texture and depth. It was he who, in 1892, encouraged Byam Shaw to take up black and white illustration.

Decorative panel by Gerald Moira.

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