Famous faces brought to life at new National Gallery of Ireland exhibition

A portrait of a woman wearing a highly decorative costume, including a high neck ruff, a dress with embellished shoulders and a jewelled cross around her neck.
Master of the Countess of Warwick, Portrait of 'The Fair Geraldine' (Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Countess of Lincoln, c.1528-1590).

Portraits of historical figures from stage, screen and literature.

Discover new favourites in the national collection at Glamour and Governance, opening on Saturday 29 May 2021 at the National Gallery of Ireland. This is the first full exhibition of colourful and engaging Elizabethan portraits in the collection. It features portraits of well-known sixteenth-century historical figures, from politicians to soldiers, royal suitors to adventurers. Admission is free. 

The art of self-promotion, often using costume and fashion, was well established in the Elizabethan Court of the sixteenth century. In this exhibition, historic figures compete for attention whilst using costume to project an image of wealth and status. Familiar faces from drama and literature jostle for power and influence, heavily reliant on their appearance and painted images. The first complete display of the Gallery’s collection of portraits from this time features spectacular clothes and extravagant personas. Portraits include Elizabeth I and her lover Robert Dudley; Sir Walter Ralegh and his wife Lady Ralegh; and the Earl of Ormond.

Adrian LeHarivel, Curator of British Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, commented: “After nearly five hundred years, these striking and decorative portraits really bring the period and leading figures to life. We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors to the Gallery to discover new favourites in their national collection at this exhibition.”

The exhibition closes on 3 October 2021. Entry to all exhibitions year-round is free for Friends of the National Gallery of Ireland. 

Exhibition listing:
Glamour and Governance
Opens: 29 May 2021
Closes: 3 October 2021
Room 31, National Gallery of Ireland
Curator: Adrian LeHarivel
Free admission 

Visitor information at the National Gallery of Ireland:
Visitors must book a free ticket to visit the Gallery. Entry via Merrion Square entrance only. Sanitising facilities at all entry points and throughout Gallery. Tours and audio guides are not available but online versions of Gallery initiatives will be online. Lifts available but for single use or disability access only. Cloakrooms are closed.

Gallery Opening Hours:
Mon: 11am – 5.30pm
Tues to Sat: 9.45am – 5.30pm
Sun: 11.30am – 5.30pm

About the National Gallery of Ireland:
The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the country’s most popular visitor attractions housing the nation’s collection of European and Irish art from about 1300 to the present day, and an extensive Library & Archive. Entry to the collection is free for all to enjoy, learn and be inspired.

National Gallery at Home:
For those who are unable to visit the National Gallery of Ireland at the moment, there are many ways to engage with the national collection online. ‘National Gallery at Home’ includes videos, Mindfulness and Art, and at-home activities connected to the national collection. Virtual tours of iconic spaces such as the Shaw Room and the Grand Gallery, as well as the exhibition Murillo: The Prodigal Son Restored, can also be explored from home. Find out more at www.nationalgallery.ie 

More information