Last Saturday afternoon we went to visit the National Gallery of Ireland for the first time.
The gallery opened it’s doors in 1864 and has an extensive collection of Irish paintings, Italian Baroque and Dutch masters paintings.
Famous artists on display include Caravaggio, Picasso, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet and Goya.
When you enter the gallery, the reception is on your immediate right, if you want to pick up some free guides. As you walk further there’s a cafe on the right-hand side and the gift shop is on your left. You will also notice there’s a lot of coin donation boxes – because the entrance to the gallery is free donations from the public are always welcome.
There is also a statue of George Bernard Shaw on the left-hand side, just after the gift shop. The reason being that Shaw bequeathed
a third of his royalties to the National Gallery, which, he documented as being of significant influence throughout his childhood.
One of Shaw’s most famous works is Pygmalion which was turned into a musical and then adapted into the very famous film ‘My Fair Lady’. The gallery gained substantial sums of money owing to the great success of ‘My Fair Lady’ and this, in turn, gave the gallery serious purchasing power. The Gallery will continue to benefit from these royalties until 2020.
We then went up the steps and headed for the Masterpieces. Each painting has a small information note beside it telling you the artist, what year it was painted and the background to it. Also, on some paintings, it has a warning that photos are not allowed to be taken of that specific painting.
For the paintings, you are allowed take photos of, you are told to have the flash on your camera turned off.
Part of this area had Turner pieces on display, which were previously owned by an English collector, Henry Vaughan.
His bequest to the National Gallery of Ireland stipulated that the drawings should be exhibited to the public, free of charge, each January when the light is at its lowest level. The Gallery continues to adhere to the conditions of Vaughan’s bequest by showing these pieces for one month only.
Next, we went to a room that had entrants for the Hennessy Portrait competition – some interesting pieces here. More information can be found here.
Lastly, we went to the Line of Vision exhibition.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the National Gallery in 2014, 56 contemporary Irish writers have contributed new poems, essays and stories to Lines of Vision: Irish Writers on Art.
Each writer has selected a painting from the collection and used it as a setting-off point to explore ideas about art, love, loss, family, dreams, memory, places and privacy. This exhibition features the paintings that inspired them.
Our favourite artist is Jack B Yeats so we were delighted to see some great pieces by him like ‘About to Write a Letter’ and ‘Men of Destiny’ – which we bought a print of in the gift shop!
Overall a very enjoyable afternoon and well worth a visit.