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    Sunday, January 1st, 2023
    JMW Turner (1775-1851)  The Golden Bough, exhibited 1834.  Courtesy Tate Gallery

    THE 121st annual Turner exhibition which opens on New Year’s Day today at the National Gallery of Ireland wlll be the most exciting yet. It coincides with the magnificent exhibition Turner: The Sun is God which continues at the Gallery until February 6. Right now the National Gallery of Ireland is offering a visual feast of wonderful work by a rare master who was far ahead of his time.  Turner’s art is as contemporary today as when it was painted a couple of centuries ago. An Impressionist 50 years before Impressionism, an abstract artist when abstraction was unknown, Turner as artist and innovator was far ahead of his time. It is always instructive when assessing any art to refer back to the greatest artists by visiting galleries.  They set the benchmark. They did it right. Their work shouts it out when lesser artworks fall short.  Brutal and frustrating as this may be for artists, it is always an important learning oppprtunity. Ask Jackson Pollock, the great mid 20th century American artist who once said memorably: “F… Picasso”.

    JMW Turner, The Schollenen Gorge from the Devil’s Bridge Pass of St. Gotthard 1802.  Courtesy Tate Gallery

    In the world of art everyone, including collectors, needs to keep their eye in. Don’t miss these shows. An appreciation of the fact that great art isn’t easy is an important first step. The Sun is God at the National Gallery is a show to be savoured slowly.  Turner draws the viewer in as he reveals his fascination with the forces of nature, the sun, moon and clouds. This glowing show traces the development of his compositions from early sketches and exploratory ‘colour beginnings’ to finished watercolours, oil paintings and published prints. It covers a range of themes including memory, imagination, nature, light and atmosphere. This unique opportunity to see 89 artworks from the Tate Collection in London never before displayed in Ireland coincides this January with the annual display of Turner watercolours bequeathed in 1900 by the English collector Henry Vaughan.  This year’s selection will include the 31 Vaughan Bequest works, and five additional Turner watercolours, alongside eight of the artist’s much-loved Liber Studiorum prints of landscape and seascape compositions recreated as prints.There is much to celebrate. Turner has always been popular in Ireland. The annual watercolour show had to be cancelled two years ago for the first time in 120 years because of the pandemic.  The show last January was the 120th instead of the 121st.  This year, uniquely, we will get to see Turner twice.


    Wednesday, December 14th, 2022
    Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614) – The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, 1599 Photo-National Gallery of Ireland

    Long-term corporate partner Northern Trust will sponsor the National Gallery of Ireland’s much-loved annual calendar over a three-year period. In 2023 there will be 12 works by women artists from the national collection among the pages.  Paying homage to women artists throughout history the calendar features works by Sofonisba Anguissola, Alicia Boyle, Mildred Anne Butler, Diana Copperwhite, Lavinia Fontana , Evie Hone, Mainie Jellett, Norah McGuinness, Gabriele Münter, Alice Neel, Elizabeth Rivers and Mary Swanzy.

    The Lavinia Fontana work illustrated here is the image for next May. The painting will be on display in the exhibition Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker at the gallery from May 6 to August 27 next. This is supported by exhibition partner Bank of America.  Corporate partnerships with the Gallery offer the opportunity to work with Ireland’s premier cultural institution and make an impact on its range of exhibitions and programmes. This partnership with Northern Trust follows similar collaborations with ESB, Zurich Insurance plc, Grant Thornton, SMBC Aviation Capital and others.


    Monday, November 21st, 2022
    Panel 3.  Goossen Van der Weyden, (1455–1543)  Dymphna and her Companions about to Emabark, ca 1505
    © The Phoebus Foundation, Antwerp

    The 2023 exhibitions programme announced today at the National Gallery of Ireland includes major new shows by Lavinia Fontana and Sir John Lavery. Lavinia Fontana Trailblazer Rule Breaker will run from May 6 to August 27. Fontana is widely considered to be the first female artist to achieve professional success beyond the confines of a court or a convent and was the first woman to manager her own workshop.

    Lavery On Location from October 7, 2023 to January 14, 2024 will focus on some of the key destinations depicted in Lavery’s art from Scotland to Palm Springs. Special features will be the works produced at Grez-sur-Loing – his ‘happiest days’ – and in Tangier. There are also studies from Switzerland, Spain, Ireland and Italy, and depictions of cities from Glasgow to London, Venice, Cannes and New York.

    In 2016, the Phoebus Foundation in Belgium undertook a large-scale restoration project focusing on an altarpiece triptych in their collection by Goossen van der Weyden (1455-1543). St Dymphna, The Tragedy of an Irish Princess from January 28 to May 28 at the National Gallery features the altarpiece, the only work of its kind to focus on the life of an Irish saint. Dymphna – a legendary 6th or 7th century Irish saint – was the daughter of a Celtic king. When Dymphna grew to resemble her mother, her widowed father decided to marry her. To escape his incestuous intentions, Dymphna fled Ireland for Geel in Belgium, with her confessor Gerebernus. Dymphna’s father pursued and killed them, and their bodies were buried on the spot by angels. The Church of St Dymphna in Geel, consecrated in 1247, still holds relics associated with the saint.


    Sunday, October 16th, 2022
    JMW Turner – The Canale della Guidecca, Venice, 1840

    Visual treats for art lovers in Ireland right now include Turner playing with light at the National Gallery and Corban Walker playing with perspective at the Crawford.

    Turner: The Sun is God offers visitors a rare opportunity to see 89 artworks from the Tate Collection in London never before displayed in Ireland. Oil paintings filled with dramatic contrasts of light and dark and highly impressionistic weather effects abound in a must see exhibition which runs in Dublin until February 6. These marvellous paintings were created half a century before Impressionism. The show covers a range of themes including memory, imagination, nature, light and atmosphere. 

    A wonderful collection of Turner watercolours are displayed by the gallery every year in January.

    As far as I can see is the title of a show by the internationally acclaimed Irish artist Corban Walker at the Crawford Gallery in Cork until January 18.   The artist, who is around four feet tall, is known for installations, sculpture and drawing that relate to perceptions of scale and architectural constructs.  At the Crawford his distinctive  sculptural and installation works  in the Gibson and Long Room galleries  disorientate and reorientate perceptions. Part of the Pace Gallery stable in New York he has just joined Solomon Fine Art artists in his native Dublin. 

    Corban Walker – Grid Stack 1


    Thursday, October 6th, 2022

    Turner in all his glory will be available to view at the National Gallery of Ireland from October 8 to February 6, 2023. Turner: The Sun is God offers visitors a rare opportunity to see 89 artworks by the English artist from the Tate Collection in London.  This once in a lifetime exhibition marks the first time these works have been displayed in Ireland where Turner is widely celebrated. The exhibition covers a range of themes including memory, imagination, nature, light and atmosphere. Visitors will be presented with a range of superb oil paintings filled with dramatic contrasts of light and dark and various weather effects.

    Every year in January the National Gallery in Dublin displays a wonderful collection of watercolours by Turner bequeathed by the English collector Henry Vaughan in 1900.  This show is a popular annual fixture and a huge crowd puller.



    Monday, August 15th, 2022
    Seán Keating – An Allegory, 1924. © Estate of Seán Keating, IVARO Dublin, 2022. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

    The divisive nature of the Irish Civil War is addressed in this 1924 painting, An Allegory by Sean Keating. The prevailing sense of disquiet and uncertainty is a reflection of Ireland in the wake of the war which raged on this island exactly a century ago. Among the characters featured are the artist, his wife and child.  A new display which opens at the National Gallery on August 20  comprises nine works by Keating and one by William Orpen.  Art on display includes Men of the West, On the Run – War of Independence and Homo Sapiens: An Allegory of Democracy. A number of portraits of nationalist figures such as Erskine Childers, John Devoy and Terence MacSwiney will be on display alongside William Orpen’s monumental painting The Holy Well in which Keating is the central subject.

    This is one of three displays marking the conclusion of the Decade of Centenaries at the National Gallery.  Hughie O’Donoghue Original Sins now on show addresses memory, history and questions of identity. In September an exhibition by Estella Solomons will feature portraits of leading revolutionary and cultural figures of that time.


    Thursday, August 4th, 2022
    Dr Caroline Campbell

    Dr. Caroline Campbell has been appointed as the first female director in the 158 year history of the National Gallery of Ireland. She will take up her post in November. Dr Campbell becomes the 14th director since the gallery first opened in 1864.

    Born and raised in Belfast the incoming director has a career spanning three leading international art museums as a curator and senior leader. She has held positions at the Ashmolean Museum, the Courtauld Gallery and has worked as Director of Collections and Research at the National Gallery, London since 2018.

    A graduate of the University of Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art, and an alumna of the Center for Curatorial Leadership in New York, Dr Campbell has an outstanding reputation for delivering research, engagement and digital programmes, illustrating her wide-ranging expertise in Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present day. She has curated several major exhibitions, published widely, and is active as a trustee of several arts organisations in the UK.

    Mary Keane, Chairperson of the Board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland, commented: “The Board of the Gallery is delighted to make this announcement today. We are thrilled to have a person of Caroline’s calibre join the Gallery team and look forward to welcoming her later this year. Caroline’s impressive experience, knowledge and passion will inspire both the Gallery team and our visitors, and we eagerly anticipate seeing her vision for the Gallery brought to life in the coming years. Caroline will become the Gallery’s 14th Director, and her arrival will be groundbreaking as she will be the first woman director of the Gallery since it opened in 1864.

    The Board would like to thank outgoing Director Sean Rainbird for the innovation and skill he has brought to his role at the Gallery since 2012. It has been wonderful to work with him through the highs and the lows: everything from the once-in-a-lifetime moment of the Gallery reopening following refurbishment five years ago to navigating the challenging pandemic years. We wish him all the very best in the future.”

    Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London, said: “Caroline has an established international reputation as a curator of Renaissance art and she has been an innovative exhibition curator. Since 2018 she has been an excellent Director of Collections and Research at the National Gallery in London. She is a gifted art historian and a highly talented communicator; she is a skilled manager and has an impressive network of professional contacts. Naturally we will miss her in London, but I wish her every success as Director of the National Gallery of Ireland where she will bring new vision and energy to one of Europe’s great national art collections. With Caroline at the helm in Dublin, I look forward to even closer collaboration with the National Gallery of Ireland.”


    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