Celebrating the Abbey in Portraiture

'Celebrating the Abbey Theatre in Portraiture', exhibition poster

Celebrating the Abbey in Portraiture.
19th October 2004 – 16th January 2005


In 1899, Lady Augusta Gregory, William Butler Yeats and others established the Irish Literary Theatre which became known as the Abbey Theatre in 1904. When it opened that year, the walls of its foyer were hung with portraits by John Butler Yeats. Since that time the collection has grown into an important body of work representing over 60 portraits by several renowned artists. These depict members of the company; actors, writers, those involved in production as well as patrons. At the same time, the National Gallery of Ireland, in 2004 celebrating its 150th birthday, has also built up a collection of Abbey portraits as part of the National Portrait Collection.

To mark the prestigious history of the Abbey and those associated with it, the National Gallery of Ireland mounted this small exhibition, curated by Dr. Síghle Bhreathnach-Lynch, which brought together a choice selection of portraits and busts from the two collections. It showed portraits by John B. Yeats, William Orpen, Sarah Purser, Albert Power, Norah McGuinness, Hilda Roberts, Basil Shawcross, Tom Ryan and Carey Clarke.