Power, Albert George (1881–1945), sculptor, was born 16 November 1881 at Barrack Street (now Benburb Street), Dublin, second of two sons and one younger daughter of Henry Power, watchmaker, and Mary Power (née Atkins), embroideress. He was educated at the Christian Brothers national school in North Brunswick Street. On leaving primary school 1894, he began training in the firm of a descendant of the eighteenth-century sculptor Edward Smyth (qv), responsible for some of the finest sculptures on the Custom House and on the Four Courts. That same year Power enrolled at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, first as an evening pupil, and as a full-time student (1906–11). Among his teachers were sculptors John Hughes (qv) and Oliver Sheppard (qv) and painter William Orpen (qv). All three were influential in developing his academic realistic style. Annual reports of prizegivings during his years at the school record his winning book prizes, medals, three scholarship awards, and (1911) the national gold medal for the best modelling of a nude figure in Ireland, Scotland, and the Channel Islands.
In 1912 Power set up his own stone-carving business from his home address at 18 Geraldine Street, Dublin, where he lived with his wife Agnes (née Kelly) whom he had married in 1903. They had six sons and four daughters. The firm gradually expanded and from 1930 was relocated nearby at 15 Berkeley Street. The scope of this business was wide. It included all kinds of monumental and architectural work in marble, stone or bronze. Examples of this work throughout his career include the figure of ‘Science’ (after a design by Oliver Sheppard) for the pediment of the façade of the new Royal College of Science (later Government Buildings), Dublin, completed in 1911; a series of heads on the upper façade of the new university building in Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin (1914); the sphinxes and assorted carved motifs on the Gresham Hotel, Dublin (1926); three altars for the chapel at Garbally College, Ballinasloe (1928–30); Archbishop Walsh's memorial at Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin (1929); the carving of the pediment at Christ the King cathedral, Mullingar (1936); and four statues on the dome of Christ the King church, Carndonagh (1944–5).
In spite of running a carving business, Power regarded himself, first and foremost, as a fine-art sculptor. From 1906 he exhibited regularly at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA). In 1911 he was elected an associate member of the institution and a full member in 1919. By that time he had established himself as a portraitist of considerable talent. Among his earliest sitters were writers James Stephens (qv) (1913; County Library, Sligo), W. B. Yeats (qv) (1918; University of Texas, Austin), and Lord Dunsany (qv) (1918; private collection). An important patron for Power was Oliver St John Gogarty (qv), and it was through the latter's political connections that a number of significant commissions came his way. In 1920 Gogarty asked the sculptor to carve a portrait of Terence MacSwiney (qv), then on hunger-strike in Brixton prison, London. Power was smuggled into the gaol, did a thumbnail sketch, and from this carved a portrait in the manner of a life mask (1920; Cork Public Museum).
Gogarty was also instrumental in the sculptor being commissioned by successive Free State governments to execute portraits of Arthur Griffith (qv) (1922; National Gallery of Ireland (NGI)), Michael Collins (qv) (1936; NGI), and Austin Stack (qv) (1939; Dáil Éireann). A portrait of Éamon de Valera (qv), privately commissioned by John L. Burke, solicitor and patron of the arts, was modelled in 1944 (private collection). Power also executed sculpted monuments, the best-known of which include Tom Kettle (qv) (1916–37; St Stephen's Green, Dublin), Pádraic Ó Conaire (qv) (1935; Eyre Square, Galway), and W. B. Yeats (1939; Sandymount Green, Dublin). In 1928 he was among the artists invited to submit designs for the new Irish Free State coinage.
Power believed passionately in producing a distinctive Irish art, and where possible used Irish stone. His altars in the chapel at Garbally are an eye-catching mixture of coloured marbles; the Ó Conaire statue is of limestone from Durrow; and his most famous imaginative piece of sculpture, of salmon swimming upstream (1944, NGI), is carved from a piece of Connemara marble. He died in Dublin on 10 July 1945 from complications arising from a double hernia. His funeral was attended by representatives and dignitaries of state and from the artistic world.