Brandt, Muriel (Kathleen) (1909–81), artist, was born 16 January 1909 in Colenso Parade, Belfast, second child of Hugh McKinley, post-office official, and Florence Ann McKinley (née Furness). Having attended the Belfast College of Art (1932–3), she won the Sorelba scholarship for the Royal College of Art, London, entering the mural decoration department in 1934. The following year she married Frank Brandt, a freelance designer who subsequently worked with the ESB, and had the first of her three children, Ruth (qv), shortly before taking the final examinations for her ARCA diploma. On return to Ireland she settled in Sutton, near Dublin, and in 1938 began her lengthy association with the RHA: in the years that followed she exhibited 145 paintings there, including several successful child portraits and studies of her own family. She received numerous commissions for murals, including those for St Anthony's shrine in the Franciscan church of Adam and Eve in Dublin (1938–40), the Franciscan friary, Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal (1954), and the Franciscan friary, Athlone (1975); the latter included not only her signature but also, in the medieval tradition, a small portrait of the artist herself. Other commissions included the stations for the Church of the Holy Cross, Sacramento, California, USA, a church in Leeds, and in a Ballymun public house, the ‘Seven signatories’. Although not notably religious in the orthodox sense, she displayed a talent for juxtaposing the sacred and the mundane in a manner at once reminiscent of Stanley Spencer and yet entirely her own. Equally striking was her ability to inject constant inventiveness into the figurative tradition to which she clearly belonged.
In 1949 she was commissioned to design a postage stamp commemorating the international recognition of the Republic of Ireland. She exhibited at the Oireachtas (1953), and won (1967) the Douglas Hyde gold medal at the Oireachtas for her historical painting ‘Carrick Fergus’. Her drawings of Thoor Ballylee, home of W. B. Yeats (qv), were included in the NGI Yeats centenary exhibition (1965). She produced several portraits of well known figures of the day, among them Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (qv) and George O'Brien (qv). Her best-known painting is probably her group portrait of Micheál Mac Liammóir (qv), Hilton Edwards (qv), and Christine Longford (qv), which now hangs in the foyer of the Gate Theatre, Dublin. Brandt occasionally contributed drawings to Ireland of the Welcomes, Dublin Opinion, and other periodicals, and provided illustrations for Terence de Vere White's (qv) Leinster (1968). Appointed ARHA (1948), she received full membership in 1961, and was for some time on the RHA board of governors; she was also a member of the United Arts Club, Dublin, and a governor of the NGI. She was a keen gardener, and is recalled by a fellow artist (James Nolan, RHA) as having a ‘passionate concern for the arts and the environment’. She died 10 June 1981 in Dublin, and was buried in St Fintan's Cemetery, Sutton, Co. Dublin. Her work is among the collections of the NGI; Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork; Garter Lane arts centre, Waterford; and the Art Gallery Society, Kilkenny. A self-portrait (1954) is in the National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland, Limerick.