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Trip List by dubhorse

Art in Dublin

26 Aug 2008  A committed artlover
4.0 of 5 stars based on 2 votes

Where to go and what to see for those who take art seriously!

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Dublin
  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Repeat visitors
  • Appeals to: Business travellers , Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art
    Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin

    The Hugh Lane is Ireland's oldest modern art gallery and managed by Dublin City Council. It is a wonderful museum where the design and layout of the museum is a perfect foil for the pictures. The gallery boasts a fine group of Constable cloud and landscape studies as well as an excellent group of Corots. These form the basis for a collection of modern paintings dominated by a superb group of impressionists. Amongst the most impressive are Monet's Waterloo Bridge as well as a wonderful Morisot boating scene. Other works include Manets Tuleries Gardens and Eva Gonzalez as well as paintings by Degas and his contemporaries. Works by Roualt, Bonnard, Picasso and other modern giants are represented. The gallery also houses a fine collection of PRB images as well as representative collections of Irish art. Newer artists such as de Kooning and Scott are represented too. Pride of the collection is the fantastic studio gifted to the gallery by Francis Bacon's lover. Using the lastest archaeological techniques the studio was moved from London to Parnell Square and is perfectly recreated down to the Krug boxes on the floor and brushstrokes on the walls. Bacon's studio included drawings, unfinished works and photographs as well as artefacts like brushes and palettes. To see the studio is astonishing and a key feature of any trip to the city of his birth. One exits the gallery into an exquisitely restored Georgian room where five paintings by the artist are on display. Another major jewel of the collection is the room devoted to Sean Scully paintings. The atmosphere of this space is calming and meditative. Scully, in an act of great generosity, presented the canvases himself. A trip to Dublin is incomplete without a visit to the Hugh Lane. No entrance charge is asked.

  • 2. National Gallery of Ireland @ Merrion Square
    National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

    The National Gallery is one of Europe's great art museums. Not only does it house the main collection of Irish art in the world - it also has a superb collection of old master works. The Irish school starts in the late 17th century with a group of portraits. Eighteenth century works are dominated by the exquisite landscapes of Barrett, Ashford and Thomas Roberts. Early portraits include those of a group of artists in the milieu of Dean Swift. As the centuries progress the diversity of Irish artists increase and include such international figures as James Barry. The late 19th century shows a marvellous increase in talent and ability with artists of the standard of Osborne, Orpen, O'Connor and O'Meara. Jack B Yeats is flagged by the gallery as the most famous of the Irish artists of the New Free State and has a room devoted to his works. There are also galleries devoted to the 20th century. Ironically the gallery includes works by a number of living artists (breaking its own rule of the artist having to be deceased to be represented).
    Not surprisingly the gallery boasts a superb collection of English, Scots and Welsh art. Key works include a large group of Hogarths and Reynolds. Personal favourites of mine are the group of Gainsboroughs. These include a self-portrait with his wife as a rustic couple as well as the Cottage Girl one of his most famous works. A number of landscaps and portraits are shown as well as an early work in Flemish style, a Rococco landscape and his powerful work, Mrs Horton. The lady was also depicted by Reynolds but truly captured by the more freestyle Gainsborough. The Scottish artist Raeburn is also represented by a group of paintings including his masterpiece of the Clarks of Penicuik. Paintings by Ramsay, Wilson, Landseer, Turner and Constable are also in the collection. The Italian works are dominated by the 17th century grouping. Early works include a masterpiece by Fra Angelico as well as a wonderful Paolo Uccello. The latter, famous for his love of perspective does not disappoint in the example on display. This is an image of the Virgin supporting the Christchild. The Child leaps forward from the picture frame in a daring work of perspective and when you lean in and examine the support you note the marks of Uccello's compass where he has made the Christchild's head from a perfect circle. Another great work is that of Pietro Perugino. He depicts the taking down of Jesus from the cross. The angel who supports His head is one of the most beautiful Renaissance works created. There are also a group of Titians including the very moving Ecce Homo. This latter is so emotional an image I once chanced across a nun crying in front of the image.
    Dutch painting is extremely well represented in the gallery. One of the key collection approaches is to show works of exceptional quality by unknown artists as well as works of great originality by exceptional artists. Thus you can see a unique genre scene by Rembrandt where a number of dandies are playing an obscure parlour game. Another Rembrandt is the famous Rest on the Flight into Egypt. This is one of the master's few night landscapes and a gallery favourite. Vermeer is represented by his Lady Writing a Letter which is astonishing for its command of light and atmosphere. Such quiet and gravity is present in the work that its surprising to realise that the artist worked over a busy inn in a house full of children. An artist for whom children are central to his vision is Jan Steen. Steen is represented by a great religious image of the Marriage Feast of Cana as well as a great masterpiece - the Village School. Here several hundred years after its completion you can see Steen's children take part in an everyday school event. Everyday in my childhood but not that of todays children - physical punishment being outlawed in most European countries these days! Other great masterpieces include those of Ruisdael and Ruysdael as well as Hobbema's masterpiece the Road on the Dyke. Coupled with these great works are many more which will please the eye and surprise the scholar.
    Spanish paintings include Velasquez's earliest known works The Supper at Emmaus. Here in a moving scene a young Morroccan girl listens carefully as Christ breaks bread. The still life of pots and pans shows a stunning command of paint by the 19 year old artist. Murillo and Zubaran are represented by large groups of great paintings. El Greco is also shown as is Picasso. My favourites are the Goyas including El Conde del Tajo and Dona Antonia Zarate (one might argue his greatest portrait of a woman) and the incomparable El Sueno. This latter is beloved by many visitors and its seems shocking now to think that when purchased in the lates 1960s was denounced by an Irish newspaper as pornographic! The lady in her sleep appears to actually be breathing.
    German works although few are impressive. The Emil Nolde of Frauen im Garten is a Fauve masterpiece. The insanity of Nazism which denounced it as degenerate art can only be marvelled at. Early Netherlandish art is poorly represented by includes a placid Christ Taking Leave of his Mother with a crystalline stillness. The group of Seicento works is one of the finest outside of Italy. This includes Lanfranco's masterpieces of the Loaves and Fishes and Last Supper. Also shown are a stunning Gentileschi and colourful Castiglione. Works by Domenichino, Reni and Guercino are outstanding. The gallery is also justly proud of its wonderful Carravaggio of the Taking of Christ. The character holding up the lantern to human perfidy is believed to be the troubled artist himself. A room is also devoted to the Grand Tour with key works by Batoni, Canova, Panini and Irish and British artists who descended on Rome.
    Overall the gallery gives a detailed view of Western Art and is a great place to while away a day or two. Entrance is free and all the more reason to take your time and view the works over a number of days. Visitors with special interests may contact the gallery in advance to view drawings, prints and watercolours. These include works by Modigliani, Picasso, Cezanne, Rembrandt and Gainsborough.

  • 3. Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)
    Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin

    The Irish Museum of Modern Art was set up in the late 80s by infamous politician Charles Haughey. The 17th century building, which had been almost derelict and was employed as a storage space was converted into a space for modern art. The conversion is not entirely sympathetic and some of the finest rooms are those left to their original purpose such as the chapel. The grounds are beautifully laid out and a pleasant location for a stoll. Unfortunately wholesale development of apartments and offices is taking place around the site much to the impoverishment of the atmosphere of this once sheltered spot. The museum constantly changes the display and is given to the excesses of modern museum scholarship. It does not show the best of the new in the way that the Pompidou does but does occasionally show some great works. It has a permanent collection but rarely puts it on display.
    The best way to decide whether to visit is to check the local press for details. I have seen great works by de Chirico as well as Anish Kapoor. I have also noted a fondness for shock value - especially cut outs from pornographic magazines. In my opinion the gallery suffers from the provincialism of its management in a way that the Hugh Lane and Douglas Hyde do not. Its worth visiting to view the building as well as the grounds. If you find decent art (no pun intended!) as well then thats a bonus The brief exhibition on the military history of the Hospital is worth seeing.

  • 4. National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology
    National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology, Dublin

    Situated beside Dail Eireann the National Museum is home to some of the most important Irish treasures. Here you will find key artefacts of Celtic Speaking Peoples history. These include the Ardagh and Derrynaflan chalices as well as the Cross of Cong and the Broighter Collar. Its is pointless to describe these fantastic metalworks - the museum is free and every visitor to Ireland should take a look at these for themselves. Other exhibits in the museum include a fascinating group of 'bog men'. Due to the preservative chemistry of peatland a number of ancient human remains have been found in bogs and are now displayed in special cases in the museum. A full archaeological examination and description is given. Other displays regard the Vikings, the Egyptians and a number of other historically important epochs including the Rising of 1916.
    The National Museum is a vital way of understanding the history and culture of Ireland.

  • 5. National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History
    National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Dublin

  • 6. Trinity College Library Dublin
    Trinity College Library Dublin, Dublin

  • 7. Douglas Hyde Gallery
    The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin