In visual art, Hugh Thomson, born in Coleraine in 1860, was one of the leading book illustrators of his time. He worked originally for Marcus Ward in Belfast, but left for London in 1883. He provided illustrations for all the main illustrated magazines, such as “the Graphic” and “The English Illustrated Magazine” and also illustrated over seventy books, including editions of classic authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Robert Buchanan, and William Makepeace Thackeray, as well as Shakespeare’s plays. Coleraine Museum holds the largest public collection of his works.
Charles J. McAuley, born in Glenaan in 1910, was renowned for his figurative and landscape work. He continued to live in the area when he became a professional painter, staying by the sea at Dalriada, on the edge of Cushendall village. Better than any other artist, he was able to capture the light in the Glens. In 1974, the Glens of Antrim Historical society published The day of the corncrake, in which twenty five of McCauley’s painting were reproduced, coupled with poems by John Hewitt.
The Causeway Coast and its hinterland have proved attractive and inspirational for well-known landscape artists, including Frank McKelvey, John Nixon, Andrew Nicholl, J. H. Campbell, J. W. Carey, and J. Humbert Craig, who had a studio in Cushendun. Paul Henry’s painting of Fair Head was used as an inducement by the Tourist Board to attract visitors to Northern Ireland. At the present time, the watercolourist Sam McLarnon has drawn many remarkable pictures of the Causeway Coast.
In the early twentieth century, the leading Ulster photographers, such as Robert Welch, whose collection is in the Ulster Museum, and William Green, held at the Ulster Folk Museum, took many pictures of this area, providing an insight into a vanished way of life. Photographs of this area can also be found in the Lawrence Collection, in the National Library of Ireland, the largest Irish photographic collection.