Posts Tagged ‘ National Gallery of Ireland ’

A Poetic Month In Dublin: ‘One City One Book’


Yes, it’s that time of the year again in Dublin’s fair city when we are all encouraged to read one book with a Dublin theme. ‘One City One Book’ is one of my favourite cultural events of the year so I cannot let it go by without a mention. This year for the first time since its inception in 2006, the organisers have plumped for a poetry anthology rather than choosing a novel. The collection is entitled If Ever You Go: a Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song (Dedalus Press) which was created by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth especially for this event. Moreover, this poetry collection is heavy on contemporary writers so that the Dublin on the page will be one that many of us will nod in recognition at seeing in print. Continue reading

Post-New Year’s Culture Vulturing: Looking Ahead In 2014


I know that we can find it a little hard to find inspiration to cope with January’s chills, but I’m trying for a brighter glow by looking ahead to cultural goings-on in early 2014. To begin with, I picked up a couple of event brochures from the National Gallery of Ireland and another one from the Chester Beatty Library plopped though my letterbox recently.

To take the latter venue first, the major exhibition of French fashion illustrations, Costumes Parisiens: Fashion Plates from 1912-1914 (mentioned previously) will continue to run until 30 March 2014. In conjunction with this exhibition, as part of the free talks programme there will be three fashion themed Thursday lunchtime (1.10pm) talks. The first one is by Irish costume designer Joan Bergin and is entitled ‘The Thrills and Spills of Costume Design for Film’ on 30 January. Deirdre McQuillan of the Irish Times follows this up on 6 February will a talk about the fact and fiction of the Arran sweater. As a child, I loved the Arran patterned sweater that my nan knitted for me so I will certainly try to get along to that talk. It might even inspire me to get knitting again and that really would be a New Year achievement. Continue reading

National Gallery Of Ireland Plays Host To Festive Events



This December, the National Gallery of Ireland presents a programme of free seasonal family events, accompanied by an exhibition of recently acquired portraits. Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the National Gallery, so make a date for the annual Turner exhibition, which opens on 1 January for one month only, followed by Care of the Collection (opens 18 January) and From the Archives: The Story of the National Gallery of Ireland (opens 30 January). Family Packs, Children’s Audio Guides and Anniversary Trails are free from the Information Desk in the Millennium Wing. Admission is free to all exhibitions and Christmas events. Continue reading

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day at the National Gallery of Ireland

Join the National Gallery for a special programme of talks, tours and activities celebrating St. Patrick.

  From 13 to 27 March there will be a series of free talks on the theme ‘Celebrating St Patrick’ (Sundays at 3pm and Tuesdays at 10.30am, admission free). On Saturday 17 March, a St Patrick’s Day bilingual tour (Irish/English) will start at 2pm, followed by a children’s art workshop at 3pm, on the theme ‘It’s a Green Day!’ with Susan Farrelly (numbers limited to 40, arrive early!).

Children’s audio tours, Creative Kits for all Ages, and a special St Patrick’s Activity Sheet will be available free from the Information Desk in the Millennium Wing. Children and families are welcome to drop in any time and draw in the Atrium workspace during Gallery hours.

Visit the exhibition, ‘Masterpieces from the Collection’ which features Erskine Nicol’s festive painting, ‘The 16th, 17th (St Patrick’s Day) and 18th March’, or bring the youngsters in to see ‘Fables and Fairy Tales’, featuring illustrations to poems and stories for children, by John Butler Yeats, Richard Doyle, Paul Henry and Harry Clarke.

 Also on Saturday 17 March, visitors will receive a complimentary treat when they make a purchase at the Gallery café in the Wintergarden. There will also be a 10% discount in the Gallery Shop. A series of theatrical and musical performances will take place in the Gallery on 16 and 17 March as part of the St Patrick’s Festival programme (this is a ticketed event, pre-registration essential, see for details).
 Entrance to the Gallery is via the Millennium Wing at Clare Street, Dublin 2. See

St. Patrick’s Weekend Opening Hours at the NGI

Friday 16 March      9.30am–5.30pm

Saturday 17 March  9.30am–5.30pm

Sunday 18 March  12pm–5.30pm

Monday 19 March    10am–5.30pm

Turner in January: A Light in the Darkness: The Vaughan Bequest of Turner Watercolours

January is not just a time of year for resolutions, shivering in chilly mornings and wishing for spring. It is also the time for popping into the National Gallery of Ireland for the annual outing of the ‘Vaughan Bequest of Watercolours by J.M.W. Turner’ (1775-1851). Many of the paintings were done during Turner’s European travels, including exquisite views of Venice. Although despite this, one of my favourite scenes is a view of the Reichenbach Fall in Switzerland (1802), but that is partly due to it being the setting of a certain well known Sherlock Holmes adventure.

Henry Vaughan (1809-1899), an English art collector bequeathed thirty-one paintings to the National Gallery with the stipulation that they should only be shown in January when the light levels are lower to preserve the colours in the artworks. I have been to make my January visit to see Turner’s work for several years now, but I did not realise that Henry Vaughan had generously made gifts to other public collections too. This includes leaving thirty-eight watercolour Turners to the National Gallery of Scotland under exactly the same terms.

Vaughan may have been inspired to leave his Turners to public collections by the example of art critic John Ruskin (1819 -1890) who also had a collection of Turner’s work that he then willed to public galleries. Ruskin made bequests to Oxford and Cambridge while Tate Britain also holds twenty-three Turner watercolours from Vaughan’s collection (as well as Turner’s own bequest).  Thus, it is possible to do a January Turner themed art gallery trip between three countries if the mood takes you. Good weather (fortunately) will not be a requirement for the jaunt.

Walter Armstrong was the director of the National Gallery of Ireland at the time and in 1902, he wrote of Vaughan’s bequest:

that in his will he stipulated that the collections left to the National Galleries of Scotland and Ireland should be publicly exhibited for only one month in each year, and that month January, perhaps the most sunless of the whole twelve.

At least there is some benefit to suffering cloudy winter days. Another condition of the bequest is that none of the artworks are ever to be sent anywhere on loan.

The NGI has been running a series of lectures to accompany the exhibition, the last of which will be held on 29th January at 3pm. Dr Philip McEvansoneya from TCD will talk on ‘Images of Europe in the work of Turner’. The exhibition runs until 31st January, Print Room, National Gallery; the paintings will then be safely stored away for the next eleven months. Catch them before that if you can and forget about the January chill for a while.

An hour in the archives: a National Gallery Print Room exhibition

A fascinating art history archive exhibition entitled The Gift of Knowledge: Enriching the Library and Archive Collection is running until 15th December. This National Gallery exhibition pulls together material from three archive sources, The Centre for the Study of Irish Art, the Yeats Archive and Sir Denis Mahon’s Library and Archive to give just a small taste of the quality and range of the gallery’s archive resources.

The gallery’s library and archive achieved a massive expansion in 2010 with the Sir Denis Mahon gift which has given the country’s researchers and students a world class art history resource. This collection arrived from London to Dublin packed in 1000 bankers’ boxes having taken NGI staff about four months carefully to organise and pack. Apparently it may take much longer to finally sort and catalogue the entire collection.    

The scholarly collection consists of artworks, books, letters, documents, catalogues, pamphlets and much more. There is an emphasis on Italian art, particularly the Baroque period, as well items relating to other European art. According to the National Gallery, researchers now have rare material available to them which was previously unavailable in this country.

The gallery is now the proud possessor of first and second editions of Vasari’s Lives amongst the prizes given by its generous benefactor. Items from the Mahon archive are displayed in this Print Room exhibition under carefully controlled conditions. The exhibition features a photograph of Denis Mahon (who died this year) in his Cadogan Square home surrounded by stacks of books and papers. Judging by the picture it’s amazing that it only took the experts a few short months to pack everything up. The collection had spread over five floors of the house, a result of years of dedicated scholarship and collecting.

Sir Denis had always campaigned for freedom of access to public art collections and museums so it is fitting that the fruits of his labours will be freely available to future generations of students and art enthusiasts. The exhibition is just a tip of the iceberg of course, but it is well worth a look. Try and catch it if you can and escape the seasonal madness for a quiet hour amongst the archives.