A History of Irish Art

By Peter Murray

A History of Irish Art

This illustrated lecture series will provide an insight into Irish art over the past four centuries, focusing on the work of individual artists, from James Barry in the eighteenth century to Norah McGuinness, Jack Yeats, Brian O’Doherty and Michael Craig Martin in the twentieth century. Art historian and former director of the Crawford Gallery Cork, Peter Murray will also examine the social, political and economic context within which these artists created their work.

24 Jan: Portraits and landscape painting in the 17th and 18th centuries
This lecture will look at the creation of images of social elites and working people, as well as the subordination of the picturesque in terms of the assertion of property rights and entitlements. It will also examine the philosophical theories of George Berkeley and Edmund Burke, as reflected in paintings of the period.
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31 Jan: History painting 1780 – 1850: James Barry and Daniel Maclise
The coincidence that the two major history painters working in Britain between 1780 and 1850 were both Irish, and both from Cork, requires some investigation and elucidation. Both artists created major history paintings in London, Barry at the Royal Society of Arts, and Maclise at the new Houses of Parliament.  Class, religion, politics and ambition all played a role in the lives and works of these remarkable artists.
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7 Feb: Representation of landscape in the 19th century: George Petrie, George Victor Du Noyer and the mapping of Ireland
The foundations of the nationalist movement that led to the War of Independence were laid in the early nineteenth century when a series of government-funded initiatives, such as the Ordnance Survey of Ireland and the Geological Survey, were set in train. Allied to this, the creation of learned cultural and scientific societies, such as the Royal Irish Academy, Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and Royal Hibernian Academy, made Dublin in the mid-nineteenth century a centre for intellectual activity. However there were two Irelands - in the West, the Great Famine saw thousands die from starvation and disease while, in Dublin, great discoveries were being made in mathematics and the sciences.
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14 Feb: Irish women artists - Responses to Modernism: Mainie Jellett, Evie Hone, Hilda Roberts, Joan Jameson, Mary Swanzy, Norah McGuinness
With the Easter Rising and War of Independence, the revolutionary movement in Ireland brought significant changes in society. Women artists, excluded for the most part from the academies, were quick to respond to the challenge posed by Modernism.
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21 Feb: The art and writings of Jack Butler Yeats
While the paintings of Jack Yeats remain well-known, his novels, plays and other writings have faded into relative obscurity. Yet an understanding of Yeats’s creativity, and the position he maintained, between the tensions of Modernism and tradition in Ireland, is not possible without reference to his writings. This lecture examines the various creative persona adopted by Yeats over his lifetime, with particular reference to Samuel Beckett, and looks at how his paintings relate to his writings.
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28 Feb: The Unexpected Idea and its Realisation: Patrick Ireland/Brian O’Doherty, Michael Craig-Martin
Brian O’Doherty and Michael Craig-Martin are two Irish artists who have achieved international recognition for their work - both cross many boundaries - and as key supporters of new forms of contemporary art: Patrick Ireland/Brian O’Doherty as an author, activist and with the National Endowment for the Arts in the USA; Michael Craig-Martin as an inspiring tutor, in particular at Goldsmith’s College in London, arguably leading him to become the most influential figure behind the Young British Artists.
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Tickets can be reserved for the whole series or for each lecture individually.

 

Image: Head of a Woman, Mainie Jellett 1897-1944 © National Museum NI Collection Ulster Museum