Saturday, October 8, 2016

Great moments in Irish history captured on the canvas By Aidan Dunne

Creating History: Stories of Ireland in Art is at the National Gallery of Ireland until January 15th, 2017

A new exhibition at the National Gallery shows Ireland’s history in 55 paintings, and reveals a few secrets if you look carefully 

Creating History: Stories of Ireland in Art, the National Gallery of Ireland’s new exhibition, and its main contribution to the Decade of Centenaries, marshals 55 paintings produced from the 17th century to the 1930s, each of which illustrates and addresses an event in Irish history, extending back to the arrival of St Patrick and concluding with the establishment of the Free State. (The Decade of Centenaries programme began in 2012 and focuses initially on the many significant centenaries occurring over the period 1912–1916.) Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the exercise is that it does not and could not offer a linear, straightforward narrative. Rather it’s a chronicle of continually shifting aims, priorities and viewpoints. Every picture tells a story with Ireland at its heart, whether conjured up in retrospect, depicted in real time or meticulously constructed, and every story is different to a greater or lesser extent. With paintings drawn from the National Gallery’s collection – some rarely seen, several having undergone extensive conservation – and private collections in Ireland and abroad, the exhibition offers a unique take on Irish history and Irish art. An accompanying book, edited by Brendan Rooney and including a series of thematic essays, is published by Irish Academic Press and the National Gallery (€24.99).
James Barry: “The Baptism of the King of Cashel by St Patrick,” circa 1800
Jan Wyck: “The Battle of the Boyne”, 1693
Joseph Haverty: “The Monster Meeting at Clifden, ” circa 1844
Edwin Hayes: “The Emigrant Ship, Dublin Bay, Sunset,” 1853
Lady Butler: “Evicted,” 1890
Archibald McGoogan: “After the Bombardment,” 1916
John Lavery: “Michael Collins (Love of Ireland),” 1922 The Irish Times