NGI Acquisitions 2012

Colin Davidson (b.1968), 'Michael Longley', 2011-12. © Colin Davidson


PRESS RELEASE: 11 December 2012

National Gallery of Ireland adds to collection with contemporary works by Davidson, Nickerson and Crozier.

Over the past year, the National Gallery of Ireland has secured several important works of art which will enhance its holdings of twentieth-century Irish art and contemporary Irish portraiture. They comprise a total of 12 works in a variety of media, the majority of which have come by way of gift or bequest.

One of the most impressive pieces to enter the collection is Colin Davidson’s portrait of Michael Longley, Ireland’s distinguished poet and anthologist, which will go on display in the Gallery’s Millennium Wing from Monday 17 December. Belfast-born Davidson is an acclaimed artist whose work is represented in private and public collections throughout Ireland and the UK. This striking portrait of Longley will contribute greatly to the National Portrait Collection which has been significantly enhanced in recent years with portraits of prominent figures from Irish life.

Another significant addition to the National Portrait Collection is Jackie Nickerson’s digital C-print of poet and Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney. Nickerson is an internationally renowned photography-based visual artist whose sitters have included actors Julie Andrews and Ethan Hawke, philosopher Anthony Flew, and writer Colm Tóibín. In her portrait of Heaney, taken in the kitchen of the poet’s home in Dublin, Nickerson captures the benign and contemplative expression with which Heaney is so often associated.

Also added to the Gallery’s collection is William Crozier’s Flanders Fields (1962). Glasgow-born Crozier became an Irish citizen in 1973 and divided his time between Hampshire and Kilcoe in West Cork. Crozier died in 2011. He was a prominent figure in the London art world in the 1950s and 1960s and exhibited with, among others, David Hockney and Francis Bacon. This painting is evocative rather than literal. It has a universal quality which links it with other works in the collection, most notably, Jack B. Yeats’s Grief and Louis le Brocquy’s A Family (both 1951). Flanders Fields is scheduled to go on display in the Gallery from next March.

Other artists whose work has been acquired by the Gallery in 2012 inlcude William Conor (Girl with Buckets, 1950s); Sean Keating (Homage to Jimmy and Frans, (Portrait of Jimmy O’Dea) 1963); Harry Kernoff (Miss Joan Wall, 1941); Dr Jacob Epstein (Head of Dr Solomons Snr, c.1955); Edward James Rogers (Sylvia, c.1929); AE [George Russell] (Fairies in a Wood, c.1962), Roderic O’Conor (Portrait of a Man, possibly Paul Sérusier, 1895) and two works by Walter Osborne (In the Life Class, 1894, and Portrait of Mary Louise Gwynn, c.1903).

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, says: “As the Gallery looks to build further on its collection of twentieth-century Irish art, these recent additions, all of which are highly accomplished pieces, will prove to be important references and represent timely additions. Enriching the Gallery’s collection is rewarding yet challenging at a time when funds for acquisitions are restricted. For this reason in particular, we acknowledge the extraordinary generosity of individuals who have gifted works to the Gallery during this past year. They are works of the highest quality and we look forward to displaying them over the course of 2013.”

A full list of the Gallery’s acquisitions for 2012 are available online.


National Portrait Collection
The National Portrait Collection was established in 1875. Initially much of the display was made up of prints and engravings, a significant number of which were purchased from the Chaloner Smith Collection in 1887. Over the years, the collection has been added to with paintings, drawings and sculpture. Since 1998, the collection has been enhanced by a series contemporary portraits of individuals who have contributed to the cultural, social and political life of the country;

2010 Mick O’Dea RHA (b.1958), Brian Friel
2005 Maeve McCarthy RHA (b.1964), Maeve Binchy
2003 Louis le Brocquy (1916-2012), Image of Bono
2002 Thomas Ryan, PPRHA (b.1929), Thomas Kenneth Whitaker
2000 John Kindness (b.1951), Gay Byrne
2000 James Hanley RHA (b.1965), Ronnie Delany
1998 Mark Shields (b.1963), Mary and Nicholas Robinson