Gary Hynes and Vera Klute at the unveiling of portrait commission
Theatre director and co-founder of Druid, Garry Hynes (left), at the unveiling of her portrait by Vera Klute (right), artist and winner of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2015. © National Gallery of Ireland. Credit

Press release 3/4/2017

National Gallery of Ireland unveils new portrait commission as part of Hennessy Portrait Prize

A portrait of Garry Hynes, the internationally renowned theatre director and co-founder of Druid, was today (Monday 3rd April) unveiled in the National Gallery of Ireland. The portrait bust by award-winning artist Vera Klute was specially commissioned by the National Gallery of Ireland as part of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2015. 

The artist’s sculpted model, made of porcelain, concrete and timber (164cm x 54cm x 45cm), is the most recent addition to the National Portrait Collection and will be on display to the public in the Millennium Wing of the Gallery from today, Monday 3rd April 2017.

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, said: “Garry Hynes is one of the most highly regarded and critically acclaimed theatre directors in Ireland. Her portrait by Vera Klute, winning artist of the Hennessy Portrait Prize in 2015, is a very welcome acquisition to the National Portrait Collection and we are delighted to display this new commission for the enjoyment of our visitors over the coming months. Our thanks to Hennessy for their generosity and continued support of the portrait competition.”

Vera Klute won the 2015 Hennessy Portrait Prize with her portrait ‘Anne Ryder’. Each year, since 2014, the Hennessy Portrait Prize is awarded to one artist who is a resident of Ireland or an Irish citizen living abroad, chosen by a panel of judges. The winning artist receives a prize of €15,000 and a commission worth €5,000 to produce a portrait of an Irish sitter for inclusion in the National Portrait Collection.

According to Elaine Cullen, Market Development Manager, Edward Dillon & Co. Ltd.: “Through the Hennessy Portrait Prize we work to showcase and encourage interest in contemporary portraiture, and to raise the profile of the National Portrait Collection. This initiative continues our long tradition of supporting and nurturing Irish talent within arts and culture for over 45 years in Ireland. It is a privilege to see such incredible works being added to the national collection." 

Hennessy and the National Gallery of Ireland are inviting artists to send their submissions for the 2017 Hennessy Portrait Prize. Closing date is 14th July 2017. For applications, terms and conditions see

Nick Miller was the winner of the inaugural Hennessy Portrait Prize for his work, Last Sitting: Portrait of Barrie Cooke (2013). For his commission for the National Portrait Collection in 2014, he painted the portrait of one of Ireland’s legendary musicians and composers, Dónal Lunny. 

Hennessy’s heritage of supporting the arts and culture in Ireland is rich and varied, from new Irish writing to the best of contemporary art.  Other cultural initiatives include the coveted Hennessy Literary Awards which celebrates its 46th year this year, an evening of cutting edge music and art at #HennessyLostFridays in partnership with the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin and the Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA that helps purchase contemporary art for the National Collection of Modern & Contemporary Art. 

Notes to Editors:

1. The portrait of Garry Hynes was produced within the terms of the Hennessy Portrait Prize, which comprises a cash prize and a commission to produce a portrait of a sitter of the NGI’s choosing for inclusion in the National Portrait Collection.

2. Applications are now invited for the 2017 Hennessy Portrait Prize. Closing date is 14th July 2017. See the National Gallery of Ireland's website 

Portrait Details

Artist: Vera Klute (b.1981, Salzkotten, Germany)

Title: Garry Hynes (b.1953), theatre director, co-founder of Druid (2017)

Medium: Porcelain, concrete and timber

Measurement: 164cm x 54cm x 45cm

Commissioned, National Gallery of Ireland as part of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2015

Garry Hynes

Born in Ballaghadereen, Co. Roscommon, Garry Hynes moved with her family to Galway in 1965. Upon leaving University College Galway in 1975, she co-founded Druid with Marie Mullen and Mick Lally. She served as the company’s Artistic Director from 1975 to 1991, and has held that position from 1995 to date. In the interim period, she was Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and has also collaborated with, among others, the Gate Theatre, Dublin, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court, the Manhattan Theatre Club, New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. In 1998 she became the first woman director to receive a TONY Award for her direction of Martin McDonagh’s Beauty Queen of Leenane. She has received many other awards and honorary degrees, and is an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy. At this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, Garry Hynes was awarded Best Director for Druid Theatre and their production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’.

Vera Klute

A graduate of Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology who works in various media, Vera Klute has held solo shows both in Ireland and abroad and has received several awards. In 2014, she was commissioned by the National Gallery of Ireland to produce a portrait of Sr Stanislaus Kennedy. That work is a painting in oil on cotton. 

National Portrait Collection | National Gallery of Ireland

The National Portrait Collection was established in 1884 by Henry Doyle (director of the Gallery 1869-92) to recognise ‘eminent Irishmen and Irish women…whose lives serve in any way to illustrate her history or throw light on her social or literary or artistic records’. 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. The National Portrait Collection continues to expand in the spirit of Doyle’s vision, and includes eminent Irish individuals who have contributed to the civic, social, cultural and artistic life of the nation. Since 1998 the National Portrait Collection has been enhanced by commissioned works which reflect both a more contemporary engagement with the affairs of the nation and a broader range of subjects. 

Most recent additions to the National Portrait Collection:

Gareth Reid, Graham Norton (2017)

Nick Miller, Dónal Lunny, Playing (2015)

Vera Klute, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, Social Justice Campaigner (2014)

Kevin Abosch, Olwen Fouéré, Bob Geldof and Brian O’Driscoll (2013)

Colin Davidson, Michael Longley (2012) 

Jackie Nickerson, Seamus Heaney (2012)

Mick O’Dea RHA, Brian Friel (2010)

Media Contacts:

Valerie Keogh / Emma Pearson

Press & Communications Office

National Gallery of Ireland

Email [email protected]