John O'Connor was a topographical painter, watercolourist and theatrical scene painter.
O'Connor worked in Belfast and Dublin as a painter of theatrical scenery. He came to London in 1848, and was the principal scene painter at Drury Lane and the Haymarket from 1863 to 1878. He designed an interior based on Nash's Interiors for Act II of T. W. Robertson's Dreams (1869) for John Hollingshead. In London, he lived for a time in Leicester Square in the house where Sir Joshua Reynolds had lived and died.
From 1855 O'Connor began to paint topographical views of London and of scenes from his travels in Germany, Italy, Spain and India. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1857 to 1888, as well as at the British Institution, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Grosvenor Gallery and Society of British Artists, the latter society which appointed JW its President in 1886. He was elected an associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1883 and a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in 1887 (in 1884 he had played Michaelangelo in the R.I.'s masque).
He was a member of The Arts Club (of which Whistler was an occasional member) from 1876 to 1889. He was also a member of the Beefsteak Club, as was Whistler.
Crane, Walter, An Artist's Reminiscences, London, 1907; Gower, Lord Ronald, My Reminiscences, 1895, p. 264; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Wood, Christopher, Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1971; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Walkley, Giles, Artists' houses in London 1764-1914, Aldershot, 1994;.