Press Release: February 2009
Two important Irish paintings recently acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland are now on view.
'An Angling Party' by Matthew James Lawless (1837-1864) which was purchased last November at Sotheby's in London, is an accomplished genre scene in which the artist includes himself among a small group enjoying an angling picnic. The National Gallery has one other painting by Lawless in its collection, entitled, A Sick Call which though similar in composition, is quite different in tone. Lawless suffered ill-health throughout his young life, and despite a fragile constitution he enjoyed angling and skating as was a talented musician. He remains an enigmatic figure whose known works in oil number just five.
A particularly important work to enter the collection is 'On the Bridge at Grez' (1884) by Sir John Lavery (1856-1941), which was gifted to the Gallery in December 2008 by Lochlann and Brenda Quinn (Heritage Gift). It was painted in the 1880s while the artist was in Grez-sur-Loing in Fontainbleau. Lavery painted scenes of Grez on at least ten occasions. The view in this composition is unique in that he paints the road across the bridge rather than a view from the river. The model standing at the bridge is believed to be his fellow artist, Frank O'Meara (1853-1888). There are already eleven works by Lavery in the Gallery's collection. These include seven portraits, three genre scenes and his sketch of the Ratification of the Treaty.
In March, the Gallery will display Erskine Nicol's 'The 16th, 17th (St. Patrick's Day) and 18th March' (1856), which was purchased late last year at the Gorry Gallery, in Dublin. The painting, which is replete with cameos drawn from similar works by the artist, was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1856. It shows figures dancing, playing music, storytelling and hawking in front of St. Doulough's Church near Malahide, which was painted some time later by Nathaniel Hone. This new acquisition is a testament to Nicol's technical and narrative abilities and to his longstanding interest in Irish subject matter. This painting is expected to go on view from mid March 2009.