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    Saturday, July 16th, 2022
    Rembrandt van Rijn – Self-portrait with beret, wide eyed 1630 (etching) Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

    Rich pickings for art lovers at summer exhibitions in Dublin range from remarkable drawings on loan from the Rijksmuseum at the National Gallery of Ireland to an artistic examination of the science fiction of the present at IMMA. Intimate insights into 17th century life in the Netherlands can be seen at Dutch Drawings: highlights from the Rijksmuseum which opens at the National Gallery today.  This rare loan exhibition selected from the world renowned collection in Amsterdam offers 48 works by 31 different artists. Among them are Rembrandt, Hendrick Avercamp, Nicolaes Berchem, Jacob van Ruisdael, Gerard ter Boch, Ferdinand Bol and Albert Cuyp.

    This show offers Irish audiences a unique opportunity to view at close quarters works which range from studies of plants and animals, daily life, portraits, architecture and landscape. This art conveys a strong sense of what life as it was lived then was like.  Drawing was a portable and inexpensive medium.  There are differing techniques with works in graphite, ink, watercolour, chalks, etchings and woodcuts plus a small number of prints by Rembrandt. The exhibition shows artists striving to understand the world around them.  It continues at the National Gallery runs until November 6.

    Aelbert Cuyp – View of Dordrecht c1650. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

    The exhibition at IMMA is concerned with insights by artists into the world as we know it now.  On show here is a cross section of works produced between 2022 and 2018 by The Otolith Group, a London based collective founded in 2002 by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun.  Otoliths are bodies in the inner ear involved with sensing gravity and movement. These pioneering artworks utilising film, video and multi-screen installations address contemporary, social and planetary issues, the disruptions of neo-colonialism, the way in which humans have impacted the earth and the influence of new technology on consciousness. The exhibition is entitled Xenogenesis (the production of an organism unlike the parent) and it reflects the commitment by the artists to creating what they think of as ‘a science fiction of the present’ through images, voices, sounds and performance.  Themes are both universal and relevant to contemporary life.
    IMMA director and curator of the exhibition Annie Fletcher said: “The Otolith Group’s films and installations address the forces and events that have shaped our world while offering inspiring examples and models  of how we might collectively imagine a different future”.


    Tuesday, July 12th, 2022
    Catherine McGuinness (b.1934), former Supreme Court Judge and member of the Council of State of Ireland by Miseon Lee © Miseon Lee. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.

    A new acquisition at the National Gallery of Ireland celebrates the contribution to Irish society by former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness. A portrait of Justice McGuinness, commissioned by fellow members of the legal community and painted by artist Miseon Lee, is the latest addition to the national portrait collection at the Gallery.  The portrait, on display at the gallery from today, was unveiled in the presence of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.

    Catherine McGuinness (née Ellis) was born in Belfast and educated at Alexandra College, Trinity College Dublin and the King’s Inns. She was called to the Bar in 1977, and to the Inner Bar in 1989. She worked for the Labour Party in the 1960s, but was elected an independent candidate to Seanad Éireann for the Dublin University constituency in 1979, and served a senator until 1987. In 1988 she was appointed to the Council of State by President Patrick Hillery, a position she held until 1990. In 1994, she became the first woman to be appointed as a judge of the Circuit Court, and two years later was elevated to the High Court. In January 2000, she was promoted to the Supreme Court, where she served as a judge until 2006. She was appointed adjunct professor of law at NUIG in 2005, and in the same year became President of the Law Reform Commission, a position she held until 2011.

    In 2009, McGuinness received a Lord Mayor’s Award for her ‘contribution to the lives of children and families through her pioneering work’, and was chosen as one of the People of the Year the following year. McGuinness has served on the Employment Equality Agency, the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, the National Council of the Forum on End of Life in Ireland, and in 2011 was appointed Chairperson of the Campaign for Children. She has given her name to academic fellowships and prizes at the Children’s Rights Alliance, and the University of Limerick.

    Artist Miseon Lee lives and works in Dublin and is a portrait specialist. She has been shortlisted for the annual portrait prize at the National Gallery of Ireland on three occasions and the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, London twice. She has shown her work in both solo and group shows in Ireland, the UK and South Korea. Her work was also shortlisted for the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year in 2013, and the Davy Portrait Awards in 2010. She was awarded the James Adam’s Salesroom Award and the Keating/McLaughlin Award for Outstanding Artwork at the RHA in 2010 and 2012 respectively.


    Wednesday, April 6th, 2022

    Alberto Giacometti Annette debout, c. 1954  Bronze  © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022

    Giacometti From Life opens at the National Gallery of Ireland on April 9. This landmark exhibition, the first Giacometti show at our National Gallery, focuses on the close relationships with the friends and family members who modelled for him, like his wife Annette above. It offers a rare opportunity to see more than 50 works by the world renowned master including sculptures, paintings, and drawings. Among them is a 1922 oil on canvas by Alberto of a young Diego, his brother who became a celebrated sculptor/designer. Organised by the National Gallery of Ireland and the Fondation Giacometti it runs until September 4.

    Alberto Giacometti – Diego debout dans le salon à Stampa, 1922  © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022


    Sunday, March 13th, 2022
    Hughie O’Donoghue – The Bethrothed Aoife © Hughie O’ Donoghue
    Photo © Anthony Hobbs

    Original Sins by Hughie O’Donoghue at the National Gallery of Ireland until June 19 addresses memory, history and questions of identity. The series of six large paintings depicts six historical figures drawn from ancient history, modern history, and the contemporary world and paired together. Best known to many as a central figure in Daniel Maclise’s The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife, princess Aoife is paired with William the Conqueror. Represented very differently from the way in which she appears in the famous Irish work, the painting will hang alongside the others in this installation under the gaze of Maclise’s monumental masterpiece in the Gallery’s Shaw Room. 

    Dr Brendan Rooney, Head Curator at the National Gallery of Ireland, commented“The Gallery is delighted to be collaborating with Hughie as part of its contribution to the Decade of Centenaries. It is very exciting to see Daniel Maclise’s monumental The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife subjected to the scrutiny of an artist for whom history and memory are so important. The installation of Hughie’s six new paintings in the Shaw Room represents an unprecedented repurposing of the Gallery’s most famous display space, and casts Maclise’s picture, which inspired them, in a new light.”

    The National Gallery marks the conclusion of the Decade of Centenaries with three special displays in 2022. Two exhibitions will open later in the year. Keating’s Allegories of Change (from August 20) centres around Seán Keating’s 1924 painting An Allegory, which addresses the divisive nature of the conflict of the Irish Civil War. Estella Solomons: Still Moments (from September 3) features a number of portraits by Solomons of leading revolutionary and cultural figures of the time. 


    Saturday, March 5th, 2022
    Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) – Cornard Wood near Sudbury, Suffolk 1748 © The National Gallery, London

    No less than 25 landscape drawings  from the Royal Collection recently attributed to Thomas Gainsborough go on display in Ireland for the first time today.  Young Gainsborough:  Rediscovered Landscape Drawings at the National Gallery of Ireland until June 12 features work produced in the late 1740’s when the artist was in his twenties.  Previously believed to be by Sir Edwin Landseer the art historian Lindsay Stainton identified one as a study for Gainsborough’s most celebrated landscape painting Cornard Wood c1748 and they have all been reattributed.  The preparatory work will hang  alongside the newly conserved Cornard Wood on loan from the National Gallery in London. 


    Saturday, January 29th, 2022
    Giovanni Antonio Sogliani – The Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist, 1620-1630 – Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

    Christ & His Cousin: Renaissance Rediscoveries opens today at the National Gallery of Ireland. The  exhibition showcases eight little-known restored sixteenth-century Italian paintings. For over a decade, the Gallery’s head of conservation Simone Mancini has carefully treated these paintings to reveal quality that was previously unrecognised. Exploring natural portrayals of human behaviour, such as warm and playful moments between the infants and the Madonna, these paintings tell the story of an imaginary encounter between a young Christ and his cousin, a meeting not referenced in the bible. According to the Bible, the two cousins did not meet until later in life, however, their relationship as children was described in later texts which proved incredibly popular and inspired many Italian artists to represent the two infant cousins in their works during the Renaissance period. Tying in with the exhibition, the paintings will be accompanied by four rare volumes drawn from the Gallery’s Library & Archives, some of which were instrumental in defining the development of sixteenth-century art.  The exhibition runs until May 8.


    Saturday, January 1st, 2022
    Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851 Below Arvier, looking down the Val d’Aosta towards Mont Emilius, 1836

    We might as well approach the New Year with hope.  Ireland’s art lovers missed out on the annual Turner exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland in January 2021 because of the pandemic.  In 2022 the much loved Turner watercolours at the gallery go on display for the month of January from today.  A highlight of the yearly cultural calendar the paintings have been shown annually in January since 1901, except for 2021.The 120th exhibition, Turner and Place: Landscapes in Light and Detail scheduled for last year, opens today instead.   With luck and a dose of optimism this might be the harbinger of a more complete cultural year in 2022 with more gallery visits, more in room attendance at auction, more fairs, more opportunities to meet and greet.  Fingers crossed.

    Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851 Lake Lucerne from Fluelen, 1841

    The Turner watercolours on display from today are remarkable and range from highly finished work to atmospheric sketches.In 2022 there is much to look forward to in terms of Turner.  JMW Turner: The Sun is God opens at the Beit Wing in the National Gallery next October. The touring exhibition of works from the collection of The Tate will display more than 80 works in a show that explores his fascination with natural forces and the sun, moon and clouds.  The exhibition, devised by the Turner scholar David Blayney Brown, showcases the artistic innovations of one of the greatest painters of the Romantic period.  It will feature 25 paintings and an array of watercolours.

    Meantime, back to Turner and Place.  The 31 Turner works will be shown alongside a group of 19 rare topographical drawings by Francis Place, who visited Ireland in 1698.Place’s views are the earliest known depictions of Drogheda, Dublin, Kilkenny, and Waterford within the national collection. This collection was purchased almost 50 years ago through the Gallery’s Shaw fund. It is the first time the two collections have been shown together and the first time since 1972 that the Place works will be displayed as a group.The Turners were bequeathed to the gallery by the English collector Henry Vaughan (1809-1899) who stipulated that the delicate watercolours be shown every year in January when natural light is at its weakest.  Subsequent generations of art lovers in Ireland have benefitted incalculably from Mr. Vaughan’s generosity.

    NGI 7516 Dublin from Phoenix Park by Francis Place. (1647-1728)


    Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

    This portrait of a mother practicing healing methods on her son is the winner of the National Gallery of Ireland’s Zurich Portrait Prize. Me Ma Healing Me by Salvatore of Lucan was announced this evening at a virtual ceremony. As well as a prize of €15,000, the artist, who is half Bangladeshi and half Irish, will receive a commission worth €5,000 to produce a new work for the National Portrait Collection. Salvatore of Lucan (b. 1994) creates large-scale works in an attempt to communicate a sense of the world he inhabits. Exploring home, identity and relationships, he creates expansive domestic scenes where the familiar approaches the magical. This is his third inclusion in the Zurich Portrait Prize. The artist explained:  “My mother practices sound healing and Reiki, and anytime I’m at home and feeling unwell, she offers to practice on me. I am a distant son and can be sceptical about some of the hippy stuff, but when her hands hover above me, I do feel my mother’s love, and am aware that she is trying to heal me. In making the painting I was inspired by the kind of uncanny, suspended feeling one finds in the alchemist paintings of Leonora Carrington.”

    Vanessa Jones and Tom McLean received highly commended prizes to the sum of €1,500 for their respective portraits, Cabbage Baby (self-portrait) and Note to Self. The judges were artist Eamonn Doyle, Róisín Kennedy, art critic and lecturer/assistant professor in the School of Art History & Cultural Policy, UCD and Seán Kissane, Curator at IMMA.

    An exhibition featuring the winning portrait alongside 23 other shortlisted works runs at the National Gallery of Ireland until next April 3 alongside the Zurich Young Portrait Prize exhibition of 20 shortlisted portraits. Both exhibitions will travel to Crawford Art Gallery in Cork in 2022. The overall winner of the Young Portrait Prize was Della Cowper-Gray, who is aged 14.


    Thursday, October 28th, 2021
    Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614)
    The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, 1599
    Collection: National Gallery of Ireland

    Following an eighteen-month conservation and research project generously supported by Bank of America, Lavinia Fontana’s celebrated painting The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon was today unveiled at the National Gallery of Ireland. Part of the Gallery’s permanent collection, it is the largest surviving painting by one of the most renowned woman artists of the Renaissance. Funding for the conservation of this artwork was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.

    Lavinia Fontana was one of the most successful female painters in the history of Western art. The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon is widely recognised as Fontana’s most ambitious painting. On the occasion of the unveiling, the Gallery is delighted to also announce Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker – a large-scale exhibition opening in the Gallery’s Beit Wing in May 2023. Exploring the artist’s extraordinary life through her paintings and drawings, it will be the first monographic exhibition of Fontana’s work in over two decades.

    The conservation treatment of The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon addressed structural issues as well as aesthetic ones. Research into the artist’s materials and techniques revealed fascinating details about the painting and its production. Cracking and instability in the over 400-year-old structure has been arrested so that the painting can be safely displayed and enjoyed for generations to come. After the painstaking removal of layers of dull and yellow varnish, many previously obscured details were uncovered during the conservation treatment. This included an inscription, dated 1599, on the base of an ornamental clock held by one of the figures in the composition. Scientific analysis has identified the pigments Fontana used and given new insights into her workshop practice.


    Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

    Anne Yeats, The Everyday Fantastic has just opened at the National Gallery of Ireland. Anne Yeats, chief designer for the Abbey Theatre, worked in oils and designed for theatre and publication. The daughter of W.B. Yeats, she was raised within the culture of the Irish Gaelic Revival. She moved between traditional and modern worlds, and drew creatively on her observations and her imagination. Anne started working at the Abbey Theatre at 16; founded Graphic Studio, Dublin in 1960; and was a founding member of Aosdána. She managed the Yeats family archive and donated part of it to the National Gallery of Ireland in 1996. Anne Yeats’s own archives and sketchbooks were donated to the Gallery by her brother Michael in 2002.The exhibition highlights creativity, experimentation and process in Yeats’s art practice across a number of decades, demonstrating the importance of artists’ archives and the role they play in an artist’s work – as a location where creativity, experimentation, failure and progress in art practice are documented. The exhibition continues until October 9, 2022.

    Anne Yeats (1919-2001)- Preparatory sketch for mural at The Unicorn Restaurant, Dublin, 1946
    ESB CSIA Collection at the National Gallery of Ireland. © Estate of Anne Yeats, DACS London/IVARO Dublin, 2021. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland