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    Thursday, June 3rd, 2021
    Master of the Countess of Warwick (active 1567-9)
    Portrait of ‘The Fair Geraldine’ (Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Countess of Lincoln, c1528-1590) Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

    THIS portrait of Elizabeth Fitzgerald, the Irish noblewoman who was Countess of Lincoln, lady in waiting and close friend of Queen Elizabeth I, is part of an exhibition of Elizabethan portraits now on at the National Gallery of Ireland. Born in Maynooth and daughter of the 9th Earl of Kildare she was a member of the Fitzgerald dynasty and known as The Fair Geraldine. Silken Thomas, who was executed for treason, was her half brother. This is the first full exhibition of colourful and engaging Elizabethan portraits in the collection. It features portraits of well-known sixteenth-century historical figures, from politicians to soldiers, royal suitors to adventurers. Portraits include Elizabeth I and her lover Robert Dudley; Sir Walter Ralegh and his wife Lady Ralegh; and the Earl of Ormond. The exhibition runs until October 3.


    Friday, January 1st, 2021

    Because of our lockdown the National Gallery of Ireland is closed until further notice. There is as of now no access to Turner and Place: Landscapes in Light and Detail. If, as seems likely, there will be no reprise of Ireland’s lockdown before January 31 it will be the first time in 120 years that the annual winter exhibition of Turner watercolours will not be open to the public. The 31 Turner watercolours were to have been shown alongside a group of 19 rare topographical drawings by Francis Place, who visited Ireland in 1698. Among them are the earliest known depictions of Drogheda, Dublin, Kilkenny, and Waterford within the national collection. The Gallery had reopened on December 1 after 73 days of closure.

    In 1900, the National Gallery of Ireland received a bequest of 31 watercolours and drawings by Turner from the English collector Henry Vaughan (1809–99). Vaughan stipulated in his will that the watercolours be exhibited every year, free of charge, for the month of January, when the light is at its weakest. Since 1901, the Gallery has displayed the watercolours for the month of January, thereby upholding the conditions of his bequest. January 2021 marked 120 years since the Turner watercolours were first exhibited at the Gallery.

    Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851 – A River in the Campagna, 1794/1797 Watercolour and graphite on off-white wove paper.


    Thursday, December 24th, 2020
    Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606–1669) – Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, 1647 © National Gallery of Ireland

    This seasonal image by Rembrandt is from the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. It was purchased in 1883. We wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas.


    Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

    A new portrait of celebrated Irish writer Edna O’Brien was unveiled today at the National Gallery of Ireland to mark her 90th birthday. The work is a commission by photographer Mandy O’Neill, winner of the Zurich Portrait Prize 2018. The diptych has become part of the national portrait collection at the gallery. One of Ireland’s most acclaimed writers, Edna O’Brien has written over twenty works of fiction since her debut novel The Country Girls. She has also written numerous short story collections, plays and works of non-fiction. Born and raised in the west of Ireland, she has lived in London for many years.

    Mandy O’Neill won the Zurich Portrait Prize 2018 for her portrait of a Dublin school student entitled Diane, Larkin Community College, 2018. She is currently Artist in Residence at Dublin City University.


    Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

    The first ever exhibition in Ireland of work by Piet Mondrian opens at the National Gallery of Ireland today.  The landmark show features loans from the Kunstsmuseum Den Haag. It ranges from Mondrian’s little known early landscapes to his world renowned abstract works with their black and white grids and primary colours.  There are 40 paintings by Mondrian as well as a selection of works by De Stijl artists Theo van Doesburg, Bart van der Leck, and Gerrit Rietveld. The exhibition continues until February 14. The National Gallery re-opens today after 73 days of closure.  

    Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Grey and Blue, 1921


    Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

    There is to be a celebration of Jack B. Yeats at the National Gallery of Ireland next year. Jack B. Yeats: Painting & Memory which opens on September 4, 2021, exhibits the work of one of Ireland’s pre-eminent artists drawn from public and private collections in Ireland and abroad. The show will explore the role of memory in Yeats’ life and work. Memories of childhood in Sligo, observations of humanity and his reflections on life and loss feature in many of Yeats’ oil paintings.

    Jack B. Yeats – Pilot Sligo River


    Saturday, September 12th, 2020

    An exhibition of prints by George Wallace has just opened at the National Gallery of Ireland.  Drawn from the collection of 250 etchings, woodcuts, monoprints and drawings presented to the gallery by the Wallace family in 2016 the show marks 100 years since his birth in Dublin. Based in Canada for much of his life George Wallace (1920-2009) became Professor of Fine Art at McMaster University in Ontario. He specialised in printmaking and sculpture.  George Wallace:  Reflections on Life is on view until December 13.

    George Wallace – The Fun Fair at Dun Laoghaire (etching).


    Saturday, July 18th, 2020

    When playwright George Bernard Shaw left one third of his posthumous royalties to the National Gallery no one could have guessed that it would amount to one of the largest ever gifts to the arts in Ireland.  With the production of My Fair Lady based on his play Pygmalion, a Broadway success in 1956 and a popular film in 1964, these royalties hugely increased.  The Gallery received its first Shaw bequest royalties in 1957 of £10,000 and by the end of 1959 over €240,000 had been received.  The first purchases were made in 1959. The Shaw bequest, which ends this year, has enabled the acquisition of masterpieces such as The Terrace, Saint-Tropez by Paul Signac; Landscape with Flight of Stairs by Chaïm Soutine; Venice, Queen of the Adriatic by Domenico Tintoretto; Julie Bonaparte as Queen of Spain by Baron François Gérard; El Sueño by Francisco de Goya; and An Interior with Members of a Family, attributed to Strickland Lowry. Shaw, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, spent many hours in the gallery as a child and called it the place to which he owed:  “much of the only real education I ever got as a boy in Eire.”  A special display entitled Shaw and the Gallery: A Priceless Education  runs at the National Gallery of Ireland to April 4, 2021.

    John Collier (1850-1934) – Portrait of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) © National Gallery of Ireland.


    Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

    The National Gallery of Ireland has announced that entries are now being accepted for the Zurich Portrait Prize and the Zurich Young Portrait Prize. Submissions are invited from across the island of Ireland, and from Irish artists living abroad. The Zurich Young Portrait Prize, now in its second year, is open to young people aged 18 and under and the closing date for entries is July 1.

    The winner will receive a cash prize of €15,000 and commissioned to create a work for the Collection, for which they will be awarded a further €5,000. Two additional awards of €1,500 will be given to highly commended works. Judges are artist Rita Duffy; Dr Philip Cottrell, lecturer and assistant professor at the School of Art History and Cultural Policy, UCD; Aoife Ruane, Director of Highlanes Gallery.

    There are four age categories in the Young Portrait Prize and an overall winner will be chosen from a shortlist of 20 works. Winners will receive a bespoke art box and a cash prize. Judges are Head of Education at The Hunt Museum Maria Cagney; artist Colin Davidson; and illustrator, author and comedian Aoife Dooley.

    Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, said, “In these extraordinary times, we hope to bring joy to those staying at home with art. Today we open the Zurich Portrait Prize and Zurich Young Portrait Prize, offering artists of all ages an opportunity to connect with their own creativity and with the Gallery. It’s wonderful to have the support of Zurich for the coming years: we are confident that culture will remain central to people’s lives, even in challenging times.”

    The Gallery is closed until April 19, but is finding ways for people to engage with their national collection during this time. Follow the Gallery’s TwitterInstagram and Facebook pages as it moves online including with creative activities for children and families to try at home. A ‘Picture of the Day’ is being shared, as well as weekly sessions on Mindfulness and Art. The Gallery can be explored from home, with a series of Virtual Tours – including the iconic Grand Gallery and Shaw Room.


    Friday, February 28th, 2020

    Murillo: The Prodigal Son Restored which opens at the National Gallery of Ireland on February 29, follows a long conservation project. It is 30 years since Murillo’s series of paintings based on the parable of the Prodigal Son has been on display here.

    The Prodigal Son cycle by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo explores sin, repentance and forgiveness across six paintings, staged in seventeenth-century Seville. It is the only intact narrative cycle by Murillo in the world. Donated by the Beit family in 1987, the works have been conserved at the Gallery’s Paintings Conservation Studio in a project led by Muirne Lydon, who remarked: “The conclusions of technical research performed on the paintings during conservation will be highlighted in the exhibition, revealing how the series was created – from canvas to ground layers and pigments – and the transformations that they have gone through over time. This new research adds to the growing body of knowledge of Murillo’s painting technique and materials. By situating the paintings both culturally and technically, the exhibition hopes to demonstrate that it is crucial to understand these masterpieces beyond their surface, thereby allowing our visitors to fully appreciate this exceptionally rich series.”

    Sean Rainbird, Gallery Director said: Murillo’s Prodigal Son cycle is one of the treasures of the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. We are delighted that this exceptional group of paintings, now gloriously conserved for future generations, will be on view at the Gallery this Spring.” The exhibition continues until August 30.

    Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682)
    The Departure of the Prodigal Son, 1660s Photo © National Gallery of Ireland