Taking Stock: New Acquisitions 2000-2010

Visitors looking at the 'Taking Stock: New Acquisitions 2000-2010' exhibition. Photo ©Fennell Photography

Visitors looking at the 'Taking Stock: New Acquisitions 2000-2010' exhibition. Photo ©Fennell Photography

Press Release: March 2010

Taking Stock: Acquisitions 2000-2010
13 March - 25 July 2010
Admission free.

A decade of acquisitions at the National Gallery of Ireland will be showcased in an exhibition demonstrating the development and enhancement of the European and Irish collections in recent years. Taking Stock: Acquisitions 2000-2010 will bring together over 100 paintings, prints and drawings reflecting the growth in different areas of the Gallery's collection. It will feature additions by notable European masters, dating from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century, among them Guercino, Boucher, van Gogh, Renoir, Bonnard, Pechstein and Feininger, complemented by a range of important works by many of the most sought-after Irish artists, Thomas Roberts, John Lavery, William Orpen, Jack B. Yeats, Louis le Brocquy and William Scott. On view in the Beit Wing and the Print Gallery from 13 March until 25 July 2010, the exhibition is the first major show dedicated to acquisitions since 1988.

Co-ordinated by Adrian Le Harivel, Curator of British Painting and editor of the accompanying catalogue, the works for the exhibition have been selected by the Gallery curators, each of whom has composed the individual commentaries in the catalogue (price €19.95, Gallery Shop).

"In recent years, there has been a focus on strengthening the area of the collection dating to post 1870, the period in which the Gallery was perceived to be weakest", says Raymond Keaveney, Director of the National Gallery. To this end, the Gallery has been fortunate in acquiring works by Pierre Bonnard, Gustave Caillebotte, Hermann Max Pechstein, Gabriele Münter and the American-born artist, Lyonel Feininger, whose striking composition, Umpferstedt III (1919) will be on view for the first time since it was acquired in New York, in 2008.

Also, the Irish collection has matured significantly over the past decade with the purchase of outstanding paintings and drawings many of which will be featured in this show: Hugh Douglas Hamilton, Cupid and Psyche, (c.1792), which is a study in pen and ink for the famous oil painting in the Gallery; Adam Buck, Portrait of the Edgeworth Family of County Longford (1787); Daniel Maclise, Portrait of John Francis Maguire (1827); Paul Henry, A Connemara Village (1933-34); Mainie Jellett, Single Element (1927); George Collie, The Midday Meal (c.1927). The exhibition will feature a number of works by William Orpen including Lady with a Birdcage (1900-1905); his study for the Western Wedding (c.1914), and his engaging portrait of the famous tenor, Count John McCormack (1923), which was purchased in London in 2009. Most recently the Gallery acquired a key work by William Scott, Frying Pan, Eggs and Napkin (1950).

As this exhibition will demonstrate, the generosity of benefactors and patrons continue to be pivotal in the development of the collection: "It is incontestable that most of the Gallery's greatest treasures have been acquired by way of gift", says Raymond Keaveney.

In this context, it is worth noting that on view in this exhibition will be the first Italian masterpiece purchased by Sir Denis Mahon in 1934, Guercino's Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph (1620), which is one of eight wonderful Baroque canvases gifted to the Gallery by the eminent scholar and collector. Another distinguished benefactor is Lady Clementine Beit, who, in 2000, presented JMW Turner's beautiful watercolour, The Castellated Rhine (c.1837).

Reflecting on the prominent role played by gifts to this show, Raymond Keaveney notes: "whilst purchases undoubtedly contribute to the enrichment of a collection, gifts have the capacity to transform beyond the reach of public institutions, especially in the light of the prices which outstanding masterpieces command on the market."

The exhibition will demonstrate how the introduction of tax incentives has benefited the collection since the turn of the Millennium. Section 1003 of the Taxes Consolidation Act (1997), in addition to the resources made available under the Heritage Fund (2001), contributed significantly to the enrichment of the collection: "The availability of tax relief for donations has made it possible to recover important items of our national patrimony which left the country in years gone by due to economic and other pressures on the original owners, says Raymond Keaveney.

Among the most significant works acquired under these schemes were Louis le Brocquy's A Family (1951) which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1956; two marvellous paintings by Dutch seventeenth-century artists, Gerard van Honthorst, Music Party (1615-18) and Aelbert Cuyp, Landscape with a Portrait of a Youth and a Tutor on Horseback (c.1650-52), which historically belonged to Lord Charlemont and the Duke of Leinster respectively. This was followed in 2007 by the gift of a rare Irish family group portrait of the Fitzgeralds of Turlough Park, Co. Mayo (1784) by Johann Zoffany.

The exhibition, Taking Stock: Acquisitions 2000-2010, will be on view in the National Gallery of Ireland from 13 March until 25 July 2010. Admission is free.

There will also be a free audio guide to the show, complemented by a programme of talks and tours from March to May.