The library and archive collections are a significant resource for anyone interested in researching art and its associated disciplines. These collections are held in the Art Library, the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art, the Yeats Archive and the NGI Institutional Archive. Rich and varied, these resources relate to the national and international development of the visual arts from the middle ages onwards and support the study of the development the Western European artistic tradition. The Centre for the Study of Irish Art houses an important collection relating to art in Ireland. In addition, the archives and special collections hold many unique items which are unavailable elsewhere. These collections play a valuable role in supporting the work of the Gallery’s curatorial, exhibitions, conservation, registration, education and research staff. They are regularly consulted by artists, students, scholars and academics, art dealers and collectors and members of the public.
The collections are available for consultation in the reading rooms of the Art Library and Centre for the Study of Irish Art. Tours and introductions may be arranged by request.
Below you will find a sample of some of the publications in the National Gallery's library and archive collections.
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The Aran Islands, by J.M. Synge; illustrated by Jack B. Yeats
Cambridge : Maunsel & Co., Ltd, 1911
909.415YEA, Yeats Library & Archive
During a career spanning seven decades, Jack B. Yeats produced a considerable body of work for publication. This includes black and white journalistic illustrations for magazines such as Ariel, Paddock life and Punch, illustrated periodicals such as The Broadsheet (1902-1903) and A Broadside (1908-1915), a volume of drawings and paintings entitled Life in the West of Ireland (1912), and illustrations for the works of several authors, including John Millington Synge. The image to the left is Yeats’s frontispiece illustration, 'An island man', for Synge’s The Aran Islands, published in 1907, and from a limited edition of 150 copies with hand coloured illustrations. In addition the artist published five illustrated works of children’s literature in the period 1901-1909, and seven novels and four theatre plays in the period 1930-1947. Further theatrical works were published posthumously.
A tracte containing the artes of curious paintinge carvinge and buildinge, [by] Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo ; translated by Richard Haydocke
Oxford : 1598
710LOM, NGI Art Library
One of the oldest publications held by the library, this is the first English translation of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s treatise on art,Trattato dell’arte de la pittura (Milan, 1584). Lomazzo (1538-1600) was a mannerist artist, better known for his writings on art theory, which he turned to later in life as a result of failing eye sight. The Trattato, also held in the collection, is one of the earliest painting manuals ever published providing advice to artists on many aspects of painting and was widely consulted throughout the centuries. Richard Haydocke embarked on translating theTrattato while still a student in Oxford. This book was donated to the library by George Mulvany (1809-1869), the Gallery’s first Director, who was also a painter.
Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens ; illustrated by Arthur Rackham
London : MacMillan & Co., 1920
709.42RAC, NGI Art Library
Irish Fairy Tales is an adaptation of literary tales taken from ancient Irish literature. Written by James Stephens, the Irish novelist and poet, it was publised in 1920 while he was working as Registrar in the National Gallery of Ireland. The book features monochrome and coloured illustrations by the English artist, Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), regarded as one on the great illustrators of the 20th century. The image on the left is taken from the story of ‘The boyhood of Fionn’.
Jack B. Yeats's library
The Yeats Archive includes over 400 volumes, chosen by Anne Yeats, from an original library of over 2000 books which belonged to her uncle Jack B. Yeats. Jack's personal library includes those works authored or illustrated by the artist: his children's books and miniature theatre, novels and plays, along with the works of others which he illustrated. In addition the library includes a large collection of literature, with works by John Millington Synge, George Moore, Lady Augusta Gregory, John Masefield, Mark Twain, W. B. Yeats, Shakespeare, and Samuel Beckett represented. Also included are a number of reference books relating to wine, ships, gardening, crafts, and magic, a collection of children’s books, an extensive collection of English and Irish ballads, and a collection of Irish and English ordnance survey maps. Surprisingly, there are few books relating to art.