George Bernard O’Neill, the son of a Dublin clerk, was the ninth of fifteen children. After studying at the Royal Academy Schools, London, he rapidly became successful for his lively, contemporary genre subjects. Although little is known of his life, he was a prolific painter of charming subjects. A Peaceful Moment is an excellent example of O’Neill’s style, with a well-dressed child, perhaps in her Sunday best, sitting quietly in a windowsill. The image is serene, with a bright, light-infused pallet. His technique has an affinity with those of F.D. Hardy, David Wilkie and William Powell Frith.
O’Neill exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1847. The Foundling, painted in 1852, is now part of the permanent collection in the Tate Gallery, London. One of his best-known works, Public Opinion, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1863, is now exhibited at the Leeds City Art Gallery (UK).