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    VERMEERS REUNITED AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND

    Wednesday, May 8th, 2024

    Johannes Vermeer, (1632–1675)  – Mistress and Maid, ca. 1666?67.  The Frick Collection, New York, photo: Joseph Coscia Jr.

    Vermeer Visits at the National Gallery of Ireland from May 11-August 18 will reunite Mistress and Maid from the Frick with the gallery’s own Vermeer, Woman Writing a Letter with her Maid. While The Frick Collection’s New York residence is currently undergoing a renovation, Mistress and Maid makes an exceptional trip to Dublin, marking only the second time it has left New York since its acquisition in 1919. Before the paintings were on display at the Rijksmuseum’s Vermeer exhibition in 2023, they were last united at the auction of French copper industrialist Eugène Secrétan in Paris in 1889. The painting rarely travels outside its home in New York under the conditions of its bequest.

    Mistress and Maid is unusual in Vermeer’s oeuvre in that the composition focuses almost exclusively on the interaction between the figures – the mistress pausing her writing in surprise at the arrival of a letter brought by a maid. The painting is exceptionally large in comparison to Vermeer’s other genre scenes, measuring over a metre in height.

    Johannes Vermeer, (1632–1675) – Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid, c.1670.  Presented, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, 1987 (Beit Collection). Image, National Gallery of Ireland.

    REMARKABLE COLLABORATIVE RESTORATION GETS UNDERWAY

    Thursday, March 28th, 2024

    Paulus Potter (1625-1654), Head of a White Bull, c. 1643-47. Image, National Gallery of Ireland.

    The National Gallery of Ireland and the Mauritshuis in The Hague are set to embark on a collaborative new conservation project delving into the world of Dutch artist Paulus Potter. Potter’s lesser-known work Head of a White Bull (c. 1650), in the Gallery’s collection, will be researched by a multidisciplinary team of conservators, curators and scientists. It will be studied alongside the iconic The Bull (De Stier, 1647) in the Mauritshuis’s collection. From March 29 visitors to the Mauritshuis will be able to follow the multi-analytical examination of De Stier and Head of a White Bull. Subsequent results will go on to inform a major restoration of The Bull in front of the public at the Mauritshuis over the next two years.

    Preliminary research into Head of a White Bull has revealed that it is a fragment a large painting by Potter that once depicted The Abduction of Europa. Remarkably, parts of this scene are beneath the painting’s surface, and can be detected using scientific imaging. This discovery has provided a unique window into Potter’s artistic choices and a rare engagement with a mythological subject. Scientific investigation on both Head of a White Bull and The Bull will be led by an expert team of specialists from the National Gallery of Ireland and the Mauritshuis, using technologies to study the paintings beneath their surfaces in unprecedented detail. 

    RUBENS, REMBRANDT AND VERMEER AT IRELAND’S NATIONAL GALLERY

    Saturday, February 24th, 2024
    Rembrandt van Rijn – The Laughing Man c. 1629-1630 COURTESY MAURITSHUIS, THE HAGUE

    Turning Heads: Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer opens today at the National Gallery of Ireland. Featuring works by Dutch and Flemish artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the show explores tronies – intriguing paintings of heads. The exhibition features artists’ portrayals of the human face, its morphology, expression, and lighting around it. These works are to small and playful paintings of heads which became very popular in the early seventeenth century. Turning Heads traces the emergence of this historical art phenomenon from the sixteenth century to its heyday through the work of iconic artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Johannes Vermeer.

    Highlights include Vermeer’s Girl with the Red Hat, c. 1669, the artist’s smallest recorded painting. The work is filled with beautiful colourful details, and a highly sensitive use of light that reflects his fascination with optics. Rembrandt’s The Laughing Man, c. 1629-1630 is an example of how artists studied their own faces to apprehend its morphology and diverse expressions. Here, Rembrandt’s likeness can be seen in the grinning character of his painting. Rubens worked with a variety of models to study their features from different angles and with great observation. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp and the National Gallery of Ireland and it will run until May 26.

    PORTRAIT OF BESTSELLING AUTHOR JOINS NATIONAL COLLECTION

    Monday, February 12th, 2024
    Margaret Corcoran (b.1963 Dublin) – The Composition – A Portrait of Marian Keyes

    This portrait of  bestselling author Marian Keyes by  Margaret Corcoran is the latest addition to the national portrait collection at the National Gallery and will go on display in April. Marian Keyes is a multi-award winning author who has sold over 30 million books worldwide throughout her career. Born in Limerick and raised in Cork, Galway, and Dublin, she graduated from University College Dublin with a law degree, and moved to London in 1986. Her first novel, Watermelon, was published in 1995 and since then she has published 15 novels in a total of 37 languages. Her warmth and humour have earned her legions of fans across the world. Keyes uses her light-hearted style to address issues such as addiction and domestic violence, bringing them into popular conversation. She also speaks frankly on her own struggles with addiction and depression.

    Dublin-born Margaret Corcoran studied Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design and the Chelsea School of Art in London. Often intricate and richly-coloured, her work reflects her broad range of interests, from social and art history to colonialism, post-colonialism, and mythology. She has been inspired by a rich range of sources, from art and feminist theories, to the history of political thought. Her work has been displayed in solo and group shows in Ireland and abroad, and features in several prestigious public collections, such as the Office of Public Works and the Arts Council of Ireland.

    The national portrait collection at the National Gallery of Ireland celebrates the most influential figures in Irish history ranging from sport, literature and broadcasting to theatre and social justice.

    MORE THAN A MILLION VISITORS TO IRELAND’S NATIONAL GALLERY IN 2023

    Wednesday, January 24th, 2024
    Michael Sweerts – Head of a Woman, c.1654 – The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles will feature in an upcoming exhibition at Ireland’s National Gallery

    With a major exhibition of Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer opening on February 24 the National Gallery of Ireland announced today that it welcomed over one million visitors in 2023. This is the highest attendance number since 2017. Major exhibitions including Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker as well as It Took a Century: Women Artists and the RHA and Lavery. On Location helped visitor attendance at the Gallery increase by 29% compared to 2022.   Vistiors found new acquisitions including La Vie des Champs (1876-77) by Paul Cézanne; Vase of Flowers with an Ear of Corn (1742) by Rachel Ruysch; Duft (1937) by Hannah Höch; and A Garden in France (1898) by Sir John Lavery. Exhibitions and displays included: Turner: The Henry Vaughan BequestJames Coleman: Still Life (2013 – 2016)St Dymphna. The Tragedy of an Irish PrincessPastel RevealedShelterZurich Portrait Prize & Zurich Young Portrait Prize; and Sarah Purser: Private Worlds.

    Turning Heads: Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer will run from February 24 to May 26 and will feature works by Dutch and Flemish artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who were exponents of the tronie – an intriguing painting of a head. Paintings include Study of an Old Woman by Rubens, The Laughing Man, 1629-1630, by Rembrandt and The Man with the Golden Helmet, c. 1650 from the circle of Rembrandt. Vermeer’s most exquisitely detailed tronie, Girl with the Red Hat, c.1665-1667, is an exhibition highlight. 

    TEFAF GRANT TO AID RESTORATION OF RARE ARTWORK IN IRELAND

    Tuesday, January 16th, 2024
    Ludovico Mazzolino’s (c. 1480 – c. 1530) – The Crossing of the Red Sea (1521)

    Ludovico Mazzolini’s 1521 painting of The Crossing of the Red Sea in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland is to be restored thanks to a grant from TEFAF, The European Fine Art Foundation. TEFAF announced today that Ireland’s National Gallery and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Connecticut, USA) are the recipients of this year’s TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund (TMRF). This is an annual grant created in support of the international art community’s vital work to preserve artistic and cultural heritage.

    Remarkable for its size and rarity Mazzolino’s biblical artwork departs from the conventional rules of perspective. It has been in the collection of the gallery for over a century but it cannot be displayed in its current fragile state. With severe delamination of the paint layer and soiling to the cracked surface The Crossing of the Red Sea requires extensive conservation efforts. With TEFAF’s funding, the National Gallery of Ireland will collaborate with experts in Mazzolino’s work to better understand his artistic practice so that this rare large-scale masterpiece can be sensitively restored and made accessible to the visiting public.

    Dr Caroline Campbell, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, commented, “Ludovico Mazzolino was a prominent painter in sixteenth-century Italy, where he worked for the Este court in Ferrara and later in Bologna. The Crossing of the Red Sea is recognized internationally as an important and rare large-scale example of his work. It has been part of the National Gallery of Ireland’s collection since 1914, acquired just 50 years after we opened our doors. Unfortunately, due to the fragility of the panel, we have been unable to put it on display for many decades. We are delighted to receive this grant from the TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund, which will enable us to undertake essential conservation treatment on this striking painting and make it possible to return it to our galleries for the enjoyment of our visitors.”

    The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, has received funding from TEFAF to restore Venus with a Nymph and Satyr (1600), a marble sculpture by Pietro Francavilla (1548 – 1615). The TEFAF Museum Restoration Fund was established in 2012 to support and promote professional restoration and related scholarly research of significant museum artworks. Championing art in all its forms, applications for its grants are open to museums from all over the world and artworks of any age. Each year, a maximum of €50,000 is allocated to projects. The committee of independent experts usually selects two winners to each receive up to €25,000 to support their restoration project.

    Pietro Francavilla’s Venus with a Nymph and Satyr (1600)

    TURNER AND VERMEER AT NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND

    Saturday, January 6th, 2024
    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) Great Yarmount Harbour, Norfolk c1840 © National Gallery of Ireland

    Nearly every year in Ireland the low light of January is offset by the shining collection of Turner watercolours at the National Gallery. In 2024 the annual Vaughan Bequest display of Turners is displayed alongside a collection of 18th and 19th century coastal scenes by Irish and British artists who drew inspiration from the rugged coastlines and busy fishing communities they encountered. Turner and Coastal Scenes – on view until January 31 – reveals not only his passion for the sea and shipping, but an extraordinary understanding of the ever changing pattern including both violence and serenity of the sea. No less than 15 watercolours from the gallery’s collection – some not seen in public for years – are included.  Work by artists John Thomas Serres, Thomas Walmsley, Edward Dayes,  John Callow, David Cox the Elder, James Howard Burgess, Andrew Nicholl, Henry Newton, George Petrie and Frederic William Burton is being shown together for the first time.  Well known locations like the Baily Lighthouse in Howth, Dun Aonghasa on the Aran Island and the Giant’s Causeway in Co. Antrim are featured. A highlight of the yearly cultural calendar the Turner watercolours have been shown annually in January since 1901, except for 2021.  They were bequeathed by the wealthy English collector Henry Vaughan in 1900. He stipulated that the delicate works be shown only in January when the natural light is at its lowest.

     Johannes Vermeer – Girl with the Red Hat c1669. Andrew W. Mellon Collection. Courtesy National Gallery of Art,

    There will be something spectacular to look forward to at the Gallery when the days start to lengthen as well. Vermeer’s Girl with the Red Hat on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington will be a highlight of the upcoming show titled Turning Heads: Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer at the gallery from February 24 to May 24.It features work from Dutch and Flemish artists of the 16th and 17th centuries who were exponents of the tronie – an intriguing painting of a head that depicts an exaggerated facial expression.  Among the works to be shown are Study of an Old Woman by Rubens, The Laughing Man by Rembrandt and The Man with the Golden Helment c1650 from the circle of Rembrandt.The groundbreaking show will present an opportunity for a powerful face to face encounter with people from 300-400 years ago through an extraordinary collection of Old Master paintings.  Each work unfolds its own story.  The exhibition is a collaboration between The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp and the National Gallery.An unprecedented opportunity to see Mistress and Maid by Vermeer from the Frick arises at the gallery later in the year.  This painting has rarely travelled outside New York, where the period home of the Frick Collection is under renovation.  It will be displayed alongside the National Gallery’s Woman Writing a Letter with her Maid.  Vermeer Visits runs from May 11 to August 18.

    Johannes Vermeer, 1632–1675 – Mistress and Maid, ca. 1666?67.  The Frick Collection, New York, photo: Joseph Coscia Jr.

    TURNER AND COASTAL SCENES AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND

    Monday, January 1st, 2024
    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) – A Shipwreck off Hastings. © National Gallery of Ireland

    The National Gallery of Ireland’s popular annual exhibition of watercolours by J.M.W. Turner opens today and continues for the month of January. This year, Turner’s work will feature alongside coastal scenes by an array of British and Irish artists from the collection. Turner and Coastal Scenes reflects his lifelong passion for the sea. The artist revelled in capturing its ever-changing character, along with the activities of those whose livelihoods depended on it. His watercolours in the Vaughan Bequest at the National Gallery of Ireland range from tranquil beach and harbour scenes to depictions of storm-tossed seas and shipwrecks. Coastal locations include Dover, Hastings, Folkestone, Clovelly, Plymouth, as well as Ostend and Venice, famously known as the jewel of the Adriatic.

    This year, the Gallery’s annual display of the Vaughan Bequest of Turner watercolours is complemented by a selection of eighteenth and nineteenth-century coastal scenes by British and Irish artists. Like Turner, these artists drew inspiration from the rugged coastlines and bustling fishing communities that they encountered at first hand. Well-known locations including the Baily Lighthouse in Howth, Dún Aonghasa on the Aran Islands, and the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim are depicted. Significant artists who feature in this display include David Cox the Elder, Andrew Nicholl, George Petrie and Frederic William Burton.

    LAVERY ON LOCATION FOR TWO MORE WEEKS AT NATIONAL GALLERY

    Sunday, December 31st, 2023
    Sir John Lavery – Lady Lavery in an Evening Cloak courtesy National Gallery of Ireland.

    There is just two weeks left to catch up with Lavery on Location, the captivating exhibition celebrating the timeless work of John Lavery which has been running at the National Gallery of Ireland since October.  It is the first major exhibition devoted to this much loved artist in three decades, organised by the National Gallery in collaboration with National Museums, Northern Ireland and National Galleries of Scotland.

    HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND POUSSIN TOO

    Sunday, December 24th, 2023
    Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665) – The Holy Family

    This painting of the Holy Family by Nicolas Poussin dates to 1649 and is in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. Seated at the centre of the composition is the Virgin with the Christ Child on her lap. Behind them stand St Joseph and St Anne, who gaze downwards fondly. Anne rests one hand on the Virgin’s shoulder and the other on Christ. In the foreground, St Elizabeth holds the infant John the Baptist. Putti pick flowers and present garlands to Christ, their inclusion adding an antique note to the Christian scene.

    We wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas.