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    Saturday, August 10th, 2019

    Often referred to as ‘Spain’s Impressionist’, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida is one of Spain’s most popular artists. He is particularly well-regarded for technically accomplished treatment of water and light. The Sorolla exhibition which opens today at the National Gallery of Ireland comprises 52 quintessentially Spanish sun drenched scenes, spanning gardens and landscapes, seascapes, costume and fashion, portraiture, and genre scenes of daily life and culture. Sorolla gained a reputation in the final years of the nineteenth century for painting large-scale works with social subjects, several of which were awarded prizes at international expositions. But the character and atmosphere of the Valencian seaside remained in the artist’s blood.  This first exhibition of Sorolla’s work in Ireland is organised with the National Gallery, London in collaboration with the Museo Sorolla, Madrid. It runs until November 3.

    Sorolla’s Sewing the Sail from 1896.  Copyright Photo Archive – Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.


    Friday, July 26th, 2019

    The centenary of the Bauhaus is being marked at the National Gallery of Ireland with a display of print portfolios. The set of four Bauhaus portfolios, displaying a diverse range of print techniques, is on loan from Germany’s Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.  Dating from the early 1920’s they were produced to promote the work of the Bauhaus internationally and benefit the school financially. Credited as the birthplace of modernism the German art school centred on Weimar, Dessau and Berlin fell foul of the Nazis and eventually closed its doors in 1933.  But the influence of the Bauhaus, which encouraged teachers and students to pursue their crafts together in design studios and workshops, has been pervasive and has impacted on all our lives. Subjects ranged from painting and graphics to architecture and interiors. Bauhaus 100: The Print Portfolios runs until December 1. 


    This c1900 etching of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London by Francis Walker depicts a view from the river long obliterated by development. It is part of a new exhibition celebrating the art of etching at the National Gallery of Ireland. Making their Mark celebrates the work of Irish painter-etchers and engravers. Around 50 original prints from artists as diverse as Edward Millington Synge, Estella Solomons, George Atkinson, Roderic O’Conor, Joseph Malachy Kavanagh and Percy F. Gethin are on fascinating display in a not to be missed exhibition which continues until June 30. It features the only known print by John Lavery as well as work by influential artists like Walter Sickert and James Abbot McNeill Whistler. There are scene of the construction of the Shannon Scheme at Ardnacrusha by George Atkinson and a travelling circus in Co. Clare around 1912 by Percy Gethin.

    Sunday, March 10th, 2019
    Francis S. Walker (1848-1916) St Paul’s Cathedral in Moonlight, c.1900 © The Trustees of the British MuseumPrint


    Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

    JMW Turner (1775-1851) – The Rialto Bridge, Venice

    JMW Turner (1775-1851) – The Doge’s Palace, Venice

    The THE annual January exhibition of Turner watercolours runs at the National Gallery of Ireland from New Year’s Day until the 31st of the month. Turner – The Vaughan Bequest opens alongside an exhibition of prints from the artist’s Liber Studiorum series comprising landscape and seascape exhibitions.

    Inspired by Claude Lorrain’s Liber Veritatis or book of truth – a series of drawings conceived as a record of his landscape paintings to prevent forgery –  Turner’s most ambitious publishing venture was the Liber Studiorum print series.  In contrst to Claude, the Liber Studiorum by Turner was a set of 71 original compositions aimed at elevating the status of landscape art.

    This printing project made Turner’s work accessible to a wider audience and served as an effective advertisement for his work. In 1903, the National Gallery of Ireland was presented with a complete set of Liber Studiorum prints by the Irish-born clergyman Stopford Augustus Brooke (1832-1916).

    In 1900 the National Gallery received a bequest of 31 Turner watercolours and drawings from English collector Henry Vaughan (1809-99).  In his will Vaughan divided his collection between the national galleries of London, Edinburgh and Dublin and stiplulated that the watercolours should be exhibited every year, free of charge, in January when natural light is at its most favourable for delicate watercolours.

    The works arrived in September 1900 in a custom made oak cabinet which is also on display this year.  They were first exhibited in January 1901. The Gallery continues to adhere to the conditions of the bequest and the collection remains in pristine condition.

    Born in 1775, Joseph Mallord William Turner began his career as a topographical artist.  The Vaughan Bequest at the National Gallery of Ireland is a representative collection of Turner’s work on paper. Highly finished works, engraved for various print series, hang side-by-side with evocative sketches from his annual tours of Switzerland and Italy.  The collection tracks Turner’s development as an artist and reveals his enthusiasm for landscape.   Illustrated are two of his Venice watercolours as a complement to the Canaletto exhibition also on now at the National Gallery.


    Saturday, December 15th, 2018

    Forget Ireland in winter. A chance to lose yourself in 18th century Venice in summer is now available at the National Gallery of Ireland where Canaletto and the Art of Venice is on view until March 24. Many iconic landmarks like the Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal feature in this show of nearly 100 works by Canaletto and contemporaries including Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Francesco Zuccarelli and Giovanni Batista Piazzetta.
    The colour, drama and energy of Venice is conveyed through paintings, drawings and prints. A highpoint is the display of all twelve of Canaletto’s Grand Canal series. The works have been lent by Queen Elizabeth II from the Royal Collection, one of the most important collections in the world. Most of them were acquired by George III directly from Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice, a passionate collector and support of Venetian artists and Canaletto’s most enthusiastic patron. The show is curated by Anne Hodge of the National Gallery of Ireland.

    Canaletto (1697-1768) – A Regatta on the Grand Canal, c1733-34 Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

    Canaletto (1697–1768) The Bacino di San Marco on Ascension Day c1733-4 Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018.


    Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

    A collection of 34 animal drawings and paintings by Frans Post (1612-1680), which lay unknown in a Haarlem archive for over three centuries only to be rediscovered in 2010, is on display at the National Gallery of Ireland until December 9. Curious Creatures – Frans Post & Brazil, exhibits drawings in a range of materials such as pen and ink; watercolour; gouache and graphite. It includes representations of the Six-Banded (Yellow) Armadillo, the South-American Tapir, the Jaguar, the Cayman (a reptile similar to an alligator), the Brazilian Porcupine and the Spider Monkey. Also included in the exhibition are Post’s outstanding oil painting View of Olinda, Brazil, 1662 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam); a drawing of a sugar mill (Atlas Van Stolk, Rotterdam); and the Gallery’s own Brazilian Landscape with Sugar Mill, 1660s. These works provide an insight into how the artist both engaged with and immortalised the so-called ‘New World’ for a curious European audience.

    Post spent seven years in Brazil, from 1637-44, charged with documenting the landscape for Johan Maurits (1604-1679), Governor-General of the new Dutch colony. On his return to the Netherlands in 1644, Post painted Brazilian-inspired landscapes featuring a wealth of exotic creatures. Scholars of the artist long suspected that he used observational sketches of wildlife for his paintings, but until De Bruin’s discovery, no actual drawings of native fauna by Post were known.

    A special loan of zoological specimens from the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History will complement the display.

    Frans Post (1612-1680)
    LIZARD Watercolour and gouache, with pen and black ink, over graphite 16 x 21 cm Courtesy Noord-Hollands Archief, Haarlem

    Frans Post (1612-1680)
    JAGUAR Panthera onca (Linnaeus, 1758) Watercolour and gouache in shades of yellow, brown, and black, with pen and black ink, over Graphite
    Courtesy Noord-Hollands Archief, Haarlem


    Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

    Between Paris and Pont-Aven, Roderic O’Conor and the Moderns, opens at the National Gallery in Dublin tomorrow and runs until  October 28. It presents around 43 of O’Conor’s works alongside his better known contemporaries Gauguin and van Gogh, who were his good friends. It focusses on the pictures made by O’Conor in Pont-Aven between 1887 and 1895.   The modern artists gathered then in the remote Brittany village were at the absolute forefront of the avant-garde in art.

    O’Conor and Gauguin often painted side by side and one drawing by Gauguin includes in the background some self portraits by the Irish artist.  After Gauguin’s death in 1903 O’Conor stopped going to Brittany and settled in Paris.  Suspicious of dealers he turned down the  chance to be represented by the legendary Ambroise Vollard, who provided invaluable exposure for artists like Cezanne, van Gogh, Degas, Picasso and Matisse.  This decision goes some way towards explaining why the reputation of this extraordinary Irish master suffered and still awaits proper rediscovery on the international scene.  Hopefully the National Gallery show will go some way towards redressing this imbalance.

    Roderic O’Conor (1860-1940) Still Life with Apples, c.1893
    Private Collection. Image Courtesy of Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd.

    Roderic O’Conor (1860-1940) Field of Corn, Pont-Aven, 1892. © National Museum NI. Collection Ulster Museum.

    Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) Bowl of Fruit and Tankard before a Window, 1890 © National Gallery London, Bequeathed by Simon Sainsbury, 2006

    Roderic O’Conor (1860-1940) A Tree in a Field Private Collection. Photographer: Roy Hewson


    Thursday, February 15th, 2018

    A major exhibition by pioneering German Expressionist painter Emil Nolde (1867-1956) with 120 paintings, drawings, watercolours and prints has just opened at the National Gallery of IrelandEmil Nolde: Colour is Life is a collaboration between the National Gallery of Ireland, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Emil Nolde Foundation in Seebüll, the artist’s former home in North Germany.

    It spans Nolde’s career from his early atmospheric paintings of his homeland right through to the intensely coloured oils, to his so-called ‘unpainted pictures’ – works done on small pieces of paper during the Third Reich, when Nolde was branded a ‘degenerate’ artist and forbidden to work as a professional artist. The works on show also include Nolde’s famous flower and garden paintings, and his extraordinary religious paintings, with their mix of spirituality and eroticism.

    The exhibition is grouped into themes: Idea of Home; the Metropolis; Conflict and Ecstasy; the South Seas and the Exotic; and Sea and Garden pictures.  Over forty oil paintings and fifty works on paper will be shown alongside examples of Nolde’s work from the Gallery’s own collection. The co-curators are National Gallery of Ireland’s Director Sean Rainbird; and Curator of European Art 1850-1950 Janet McLean – along with Keith Hartley, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, who will curate the exhibition when it moves to Edinburgh next July.  It continues in Dublin until June 10.

    Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
    Large Poppies (Red, Red, Red), 1942 © Nolde Stiftung Seebül

    Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
    Candle Dancers, 1912 © Nolde Stiftung Seebüll


    Monday, January 1st, 2018
    The annual January exhibition of Turner watercolours at the National Gallery of Ireland  this year is a conversation across the centuries. Good Morning Mister Turner – Niall Naessens and J.M.W. Turner – brings together the gallery’s Vaughan Bequest of 31 watercolours and a series of etchings and drawings by the Brandon based printmaker who worked as master printer in the Graphic Studio for many years.
    Naessens approaches Turner’s works obliquely, not as images to be imitated or interpreted, but as a means of looking at the landscape. He has created an artists book with 13 small etchings in a yellow box, eleven framed prints and five drawings for the exhibitions.

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) -Ostend Harbour, c.1840 Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

    Niall Naessens (b.1961) – Artist Seen Taking in the Morning, 2017 © Niall Naessens


    Saturday, December 16th, 2017
    To mark the centenary of William Orpen’s visit to France as an official war artist the National Gallery of Ireland is exhibiting some of his war works.  Serving with the British Army he recorded the aftermath of the Battle of the Somme, a lifeless wasteland, the result of prolonged trench warfare, mining and heaving bombardment.

    In his 1921 memoir An Onlooker in France the artist wrote of the horror he had experienced. Drawing on this text the exhibition  explores a selection of his aftermath paintings.  The artist Garrett Phelan was commissioned by the National Gallery to produce art in response to Orpen’s experience and has created works in sound and clay acquired directly from the Somme. Aftermath, the War Landscapes of William Orpen, runs until February 11.

    Sir William Orpen – Sketch in a desolate landscape

    Sir William Orpen – Man with a cigarette

    Sir William Orpen – Thiepval II