Newest Review: ... worth a look along with the rest of the artists work. Mo... more
National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin)
Member Name: MurphEE
National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin)
Date: 07/08/02, updated on 07/08/02 (363 review reads)
Advantages: Wonderful building.
There are four wings that make up the gallery. The Beit, Milltown and Dargan wings have been supplemented by the addition of a new wing, but more of that later. These three wings house the gallery’s permanent collection. The Beit wing houses Italian, German, Spanish and British art as well as examples of European sculpture. The Milltown wing has Greek, Russian, Flemish and Dutch painting as well as an extensive collection of art from Ireland. The Dargan wing has an extensive selection of French and Baroque art and also houses the National Portrait Gallery and the Yeats Museum.
There are too many fine works to mention individually but here is a small selection that you may not want to miss. The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio is magnificent and is exactly what you would expect from a master. The Gleaners by Jules Breton is a wonderful study of rural life. And beware of bumping into Barney as you take in the Vermeer, Lady Writing a letter is one of the works that he will have to see to fulfil his ambition. (Barney was the guy who looked after Dr. Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs and made a comeback in Hannibal)
The gallery has a Picasso among the collection. Still Life with Mandolin appears to be one of his more accessible works. The Singing Horseman is by Jack B. Yeats, the brother of the more famous W.B. Yeats. It is a very lively piece that is full of energy and is well
worth a look along with the rest of the artists work. More information is available on www.nationalgallery.ie I am now going to move on to the remaining wing and one of the temporary exhibits which is currently on show there.
The gallery has recently had a new wing added and this is where the temporary exhibits are housed. The Millennium Wing is a fine building which houses a gift shop, café and restaurant as well as the galleries. The entrance is from Clare Street and a ticket booth is located just inside the entrance although for more popular exhibits it pays to book in advance either through the gallery or ticket agents. The usual agent for these exhibitions is Ticket Master and you can either book on line at www.ticketmaster.ie or call 1890 925 120 from Ireland or 0870 333 6030 from the UK.
Tickets cost €10 for adults with concession tickets at €6. Children under 12 will cost €3 while under fives are free. There is no booking fee and a timed system of ticketing operates. This means that you chose an entry time and arrive at the gallery for that time. We visited in midweek and it was not very busy but at weekends they may be stricter on entry times.
We went to see American Beauty, which is described as painting and sculpture from the Detroit Institute of Arts 1770 – 1920. This is the first comprehensive survey of American art to travel to Ireland. Over a period of 150 years it traces the history and development of American art as linked to the development of the new nation. It runs from 12 June to 1 September. The exhibition is split into categories that help to illustrate this journey.
Colonial and Federal Painting.
The first American artists were itinerant craftsmen who relied on the patronage of wealthy merchants. They tended to stick to commissions by local landowners and merchants. The next generation stuck to the same subject matter but were more technically accomplish
ed. They travelled abroad and brought back what they had learned. Gilbert Stuart and John Singleton Copley were among the first to adopt the British Grand Manner portrait style.
As the Federal era began a market grew for portraits of the nations new leaders. Rembrandt Peale’s portrait of George Washington is here as well as fine examples from Stuart and Thomas Sully. It is strange to gaze into the eyes of these men who forged a nation. Charles Wilson Peale actually fathered a whole school of artists with works by four of his family on show.
The painting of historical narratives was not favoured in the new world at this time and those who wanted to work in this area found that they had to travel abroad for training and patronage. Benjamin West was the foremost amongst these artists and even though he settled in Britain he had an influence on several generations of American artists. Among those he trained were John Singleton Copley, Charles Wilson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, Gilbert Stuart, Washington Allston and Thomas Sully. There are works from all of the above on show.
Genre and Still Life.
The tendency was to depict rural and frontier scenes. Works by William Sydney Mount depict the former while George Caleb Bingham was an exponent of the latter. The American Civil War also provided a wealth of subject matter. Artists such as Winslow Homer and Eastman Johnson used the conflict for material. Raphaelle Peale is an exponent of still life and his work depicts the success and material well being of America’s growing middle class.
Hudson River School.
Landscape painting came to dominate American art in the early nineteenth century. Thomas Cole is the key figure amongst this group who came to see the land as a symbol of the new nations potential. There are some breathtaking works on show including examples by Cropsey and Church. Among the most exciting is Cotop
axi by Frederic Edwin Church, which depicts a scene of a volcanic eruption. The canvass is huge and you will find yourself lost in the detail for quite some time as you gaze across the landscape towards the inferno.
Americans in Europe.
As travel increased many artists moved to Europe to study the styles of the old world. Among the famous names are James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent. Cassatt is the most famous of the American Impressionists and the only one to exhibit with the European Impressionists. She also had a hand in selling the Europeans work to many American collectors.
And so the wheel turns full circle with the development of a style that could only be American. Robert Henri, John Sloan and George Luks began to depict urban American life. They used dark colours that reflected the images of the urban landscape of the time. They depicted life as they saw it around them and caused controversy by doing so. It was felt that what went on in bar rooms and bordellos should be left there and not made the subject matter of art.
We found this to be a wonderful collection and very informative. It is easy to trace the development of the art across the years. The audio tour which is available for €5 is excellent and really fills in the background detail behind the works. I have heard this collection described as workman like but would dispute that and point to the fact that we are looking at art from a new nation and not from one with centuries of tradition. If you are in Dublin before the first of September then I would recommend that you have a look on what we believe is a fascinating collection.
Thank you for reading.
© MurphEE 2002
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