Arthur Kingsley Porter
Arthur Kingsley Porter
A deep interest in Celtic cultures resulted in Porter coming to Ireland in the summers of the early 1930’s. Porter became the owner of Glenveagh and also of a fisherman’s cottage on Inishbofin Island.
Arthur Kingsley Porter was born in Stamford Connecticut in 1883. He was the third son to Timothy Hopkins Porter, a banker, and Maria Louisa Hoyt from an upper class family. Porter experienced difficult early years, his mother died when he was eight, his middle brother died during college, his oldest brother suffered sickness and his father passed away when Porter was a freshman at Yale University. Porter graduated from Yale University in 1902, however he did not go on to pursue a law career instead he enrolled at Columbia University School of Architecture and went on to study architecture history.
Porter loved to travel, and he travelled throughout Europe carrying out research and photographing medieval buildings. During this time he wrote ‘Medieval Architecture’ and ‘The Construction of Lombard and Gothis Vaults’. Porter went on to travel and to write further books, while managed by his wife Lucy Bryant Wallace (a well known New Yorker who organised most of his life and his paperwork) these included; ‘Lombard Architecture’, ‘Romanesque Sculpture of the Pilgrimage Roads’ his most well know and contentious work and his last piece ‘The Crosses and Culture of Ireland’.
In 1915 Porter was offered a lecturing position in Yale, he took it up and at the same time started working towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He took leave in 1923 to teach in Sorbonne Paris. In the years 1924 & 1925 he lectured at different French Universities as well as being a visiting professor in Spain. In 1925 he returned to the US as Chair of Art History at Harvard. In 1927 the University of Marburg bestowed Porter with an honorary doctor of letters degree.
On a visit to Donegal in 1933 Porter while on the island of Inish Boffin disappeared on 8th July. Although his body has never been found, an inquest into his death was held and an inconclusive verdict was the outcome. Drowning, foul play and personal problems were some of the reasons rumoured for his disappearance. There were many sightings reported from all over the world for years after his disappearance. Glenveagh was bought by Henry McIlhenny in 1937. McIlhenny was a curator, art collector and a formed student of Porter’s from Philadelphia.
Arthur Kingsley Porter remains to this day an important scholar and researcher of medieval architecture, an award-winning author, a distinguished professor of fine arts and a worldwide traveler.