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Eye Candy at the National Gallery of Ireland: Acquisitions 2000-2010.

March 15, 2010

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Young Woman in white Reading, 1873
Photo © National Gallery of Ireland
Purchased, Sotheby’s, New York, 2007

You’re in for a treat. ‘Acquisitions 2000-2010’, a new exhibition in the National Gallery displaying a decade of pieces bought by the gallery. Opening on March 13th, the show will include works by Continental Masters from mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century: van Gogh, Renoir, Caillebotte, Bonnard, Pechstein and Feininger, and Old Masters: Cuyp, Maratti, Honthorst and Zoffany. Go in through the entrance on Nassau street, straight up the first set of stairs then go left beside the second set of stairs. You’ll go past a sculpture gallery. The room to the left contains the paintings and the print gallery up the stairs contains works on paper.

We started off with the paintings and we were pleasantly surprised. It’s a wonderful collection. Particular favorites were the portrait of Fr. Luke Wadding ( Maratti), ‘His Last Work’, a heart-rending piece by William Bartlett showing a sculptor’s studio with an Aphrodite-like sculpture wreathed in black and the mourners standing around. Besides the beautiful lighting in this painting, it also serves to remind us how artists view their works, as extensions of themselves that will live beyond their frail bodies. There’s the famous Roderic O’Connor ‘Breton Girl’ that those of you who studied Art for the Leaving will remember. Aloysius O’Kelly paints the interior of a church in ‘Interior of a Church in Brittany’ but this is an unusual church- rather than the sumptuous glory we’re used to, this is a church gone to ruin and disrepair, with a black-clad woman praying at a decrepit altar. It gave us pause. Room Nine was of particular delight: it contains mostly scenes of Irish intrigue, including Walter Osborne’s ‘The Dublin Streets; a Vendor of Books’ which depicts the area near O’Connell Bridge in 1889 as if looking up from near where the Spar would be now. The ragamuffins running around and the horse carriages contrast oddly with the familiar lamps and bridge we know today. Going back in time a little more, we see Erskine Nicol’s painting of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations of 1856. If you ever wondered how our ancestors celebrated this day, look no further. It shows revelers near a (shut) church making merry with the potion, buying and selling, courting and in general having quite a merry time of it. For our square readers, there’s also a Le Brocquy in room 10- ‘The Family’ which is actually quite good and worth a gander. Up to the print gallery then, where we’ll find works on paper, some really nice pieces here. George Stubbs perhaps unwisely foregoes his natural subject, horses, to render some watercolours of emotions. His horse paintings are beautiful though and if you’re ever in the National Gallery in London, check them out. They are stunning. Anders Zorn is a master with colour so it’s quite exciting to see his sketch in here. Unfortunately it’s in black and white so his genius doesn’t really shine through. Still, it’s a Zorn. William Orpen’s natural draughtsmanship is amazing in his ‘Study for a Western Wedding’, presumably a cartoon done after many smaller studies. His academic schooling is perhaps unsurpassed in Ireland except perhaps for Frederick William Burton (you might remember his sketches from the ‘sketches’ section of the Harry Clarke exhibit last year). Burton is represented here with ‘Faust’s First Sight of Marguerite’, not one of his best but still of a very high quality. If you like your lols, have a look at Howard Helmick’s ‘The Schoolmaster’s Moment of Leisure’ (1888), showing a hedge school with a single pupil, a dunce cap poised on his head and his teacher enjoying his time off. Harry Clarke, our resident Jugendstil genius, has a piece in- ‘Wild Swans at Coole’, a carryover from his exhibition last year. Preternaturally lovely as always, Clarke finishes off the exhibition like a good froth on an excellent cappuccino. Acquisitions continues until July 25th.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. fii permalink
    March 23, 2010 7:49 pm

    good to see an update! thought you got lost! have a nice day

  2. March 23, 2010 8:01 pm

    I will never go away. 🙂

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