Portrait of beloved Irish author Marian Keyes unveiled at National Gallery of Ireland

Photograph of two women, one wearing black, the other wearing a green top, sitting in a yellow room looking at a painting
Photo, Naoise Culhane.Credit

 A new addition to the national collection at the National Gallery of Ireland celebrates bestselling author Marian Keyes. A portrait of the literary phenomenon painted by artist Margaret Corcoran is the latest addition to the national portrait collection at the Gallery. The Composition – A Portrait of Marian Keyes, an oil painting, was unveiled at a ceremony on 9 February 2024.

Marian Keyes is a multi-award winning author who has sold over 30 million books worldwide throughout her career. Born in Limerick and raised in Cork, Galway, and Dublin, she graduated from University College Dublin with a law degree, and moved to London in 1986. Her first novel, Watermelon, was published in 1995 and since then she has published 15 novels in a total of 37 languages. Her warmth and humour have earned her legions of fans across the world, and Keyes uses her light-hearted style to address issues such as addiction and domestic violence, bringing them into popular conversation. She also speaks frankly on her own struggles with addiction and depression.

Over the past 29 years, Marian Keyes has won an array of awards for her work including the 2021 Irish Book Awards and 2022 British Book Awards author of the year. In addition to her novels, Keyes has also published collections of journalism, and has in recent years moved into broadcasting, releasing a podcast Now You're Asking with Marian Keyes and Tara Flynn with BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4. In 2019, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Limerick. She currently resides in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.

Dublin-born Margaret Corcoran studied Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design and the Chelsea School of Art in London. Often intricate and richly-coloured, her work reflects her broad range of interests, from social and art history to colonialism, post-colonialism, and mythology. She has been inspired by a rich range of sources, from art and feminist theories, to the history of political thought. Her work has been displayed in solo and group shows in Ireland and abroad, and features in several prestigious public collections, such as the Office of Public Works and the Arts Council of Ireland.

Dr Caroline Campbell, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, commented, “It is a great honour to unveil this portrait of Marian Keyes today. Marian’s books mean so much to so many across the island of Ireland and beyond. To have her represented in the National Gallery of Ireland is very exciting. The origins of our national portrait collection date back to 1875. It is regularly being enhanced by commissioned portraits of prominent figures from contemporary Irish life and is a source of joy and fascination for our Irish and international visitors. We know that this new work by Irish artist Margaret Corcoran will be a draw for our audiences young and old.”

Author Marian Keyes said, “It was a surprise and a huge honour when the National Gallery invited me to sit for a portrait for inclusion in the national portrait collection. Margaret Corcoran and I met and the personal connection was immediate: she’s very warm and wears her talent lightly. We also discovered we’re almost exactly the same age. And I love her work, there’s a playfulness there and a great humanity. 

She very generously discussed her ideas for the portrait with me. However, from the beginning I understood that I should in no way try to influence how she worked: she’s an artist and I respect that totally. She had to be true to her vision, her sense of what she needed to create, and I had no right to try and steer it. As a result, I tried to take personal vanity out of it. The portrait was not about how I saw myself but how Margaret Corcoran, the artist, did. If she decided to go the full Francis Bacon, then so be it.

However, I was bowled over by the finished portrait: I love it; the colours, the textures, the mood, the many tiny details. I don’t have the language to analyse art but it feels as if she’s captured me. The playfulness that she’s so great at is definitely there. I’m absolutely delighted and incredibly proud of this beautiful honour. May I offer heartfelt gratitude to everyone who made this possible.”

Artist Margaret Corcoran said, “I portrayed Marian in the house where she has written many of her books. The walls in her house were yellow, though the yellow in my painting refers to ‘The Song Rehearsal’, painted by Edgar Degas in 1873. I associate Marian with a vibrant colour palette – both in personality and in her own style and decor. It was my aim to paint not only a portrait but an image that spoke to the fondness of her readers both nationally and globally. I felt lucky in the process of painting Marian’s portrait to have been accompanied by the astounding exhibition - Lavinia Fontana - at the National Gallery of Ireland. The work of this female Renaissance artist was an enormous help as a reference - particularly in the detail of the clothing. I titled the painting ‘The Composition - A Portrait of Marian Keyes’ - because within those walls the act of composition occurs. An imaginary landscape appears to form from her hands - which is the realm that any author lives in during the act of writing.  As a painter I too share the act of composition while creating her portrait. The background and areas of her garment were a way of allowing my own personal style of working to speak in a poetic form through the portrait.”

The national portrait collection at the National Gallery of Ireland celebrates the most influential figures in Irish history. The fields of Irish endeavour represented in the national portrait collection range from sport, literature and broadcasting to theatre and social justice. A selection of works from the collection will be on display in Room 23 in the Dargan Wing in April. To support the National Gallery of Ireland go to www.nationalgallery.ie/join-and-give 


Media contact:

  • Kate O’Leary (Communications, National Gallery of Ireland)

Notes to Editor:

  • Images of the portrait unveiling by photographer Naoise Culhane are available on request. 
  • Dr Caroline Campbell is available for interview.
  • The portrait of Marian Keyes will go on display in Room 23 (Portrait Gallery) at the National Gallery of Ireland in April.

Information about the work:

Artist: Margaret Corcoran (b.1963 Dublin)
Title: The Composition – A Portrait of Marian Keyes     
Date: 2023
Medium: Water-based oil on linen
Dimensions: 198 × 139 cm (framed)
Commissioned by the National Gallery of Ireland as part of the national portrait collection

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.

2024 at the National Gallery of Ireland:

2024 marks the 160th anniversary of the opening of the National Gallery of Ireland on 30 January 1864 and the 170th anniversary of the establishment of the Gallery through the National Gallery of Ireland Act (1854) on 10 August 1854. The Gallery will publish a new strategic plan for the period 2024-28 in early 2024.


Portráid den údar Éireannach cáiliúil, Marian Keyes, ar taispeáint i nGailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann 

Is cuid den bhailiúchán náisiúnta é saothar an ealaíontóra Margaret Corcoran anois 

Is í an t-údar sárdhíola, Marian Keyes, atá á cheiliúradh i saothar nua atá curtha leis an mbailiúchán náisiúnta i nGailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann. Is í an phortráid den scríbhneoir iontach leis an ealaíontóir Margaret Corcoran, an saothar is déanaí atá curtha leis an mbailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí sa Ghailearaí. Taispeánadh an phéintéireacht ola dar teideal The Composition – A Portrait of Marian Keyes, don phobal den chéad uair ag searmanas a reáchtáladh ar an 9 Feabhra 2024.

Is iomaí duais atá buaite ag Marian Keyes agus tá breis is 30 milliún leabhar díolta aici ar fud an domhain. Ba i Luimneach a rugadh í agus chaith sí tréimhsí ina cónaí i gCorcaigh, Gaillimh agus Baile Átha Cliath. Bhronn Coláiste na hOllscoile, Baile Átha Cliath céim sa dlí uirthi agus thug sí aghaidh ar Londain sa bhliain 1986. Foilsíodh an chéad úrscéal a scríobh sí, Watermelon, in 1995 agus ó shin i leith tá 15 úrscéal foilsithe aici agus tá siad ar fáil in 37 teanga éagsúil faoin tráth seo. Is breá lena léitheoirí ar fud an domhain a pearsantacht chineálta agus a meon sona, agus úsáideann Keyes a stíl spraíúil chun díriú ar cheisteanna éagsúla, leithéidí andúil agus foréigean baile, agus chun deis a thabhairt do ghnáthdhaoine ceisteanna mar seo a phlé. Chomh maith leis sin, ní bhíonn drogall uirthi labhairt faoina taithí féin ar andúil agus ar dhúlagar.

Le 29 bliain anuas, tá neart duaiseanna buaite ag Marian Keyes dá saothar lena n-áirítear údar na bliana ag Gradaim Leabhair na hÉireann 2021 agus ag Gradaim Leabhair na Breataine 2022. Sa bhreis ar a cuid úrscéalta, tá bailiúcháin iriseoireachta foilsithe ag Keyes, agus le blianta beaga anuas tá sí ag díriú ar an gcraoltóireacht, agus tá podchraoladh dá cuid féin aici anois ar a dtugtar Now You're Asking with Marian Keyes and Tara Flynn atá á thaifeadadh aici i dteannta le BBC Sounds agus BBC Radio 4. In 2019, bhronn Ollscoil Luimnigh dochtúireacht oinigh uirthi. Is í nDún Laoghaire, i mBaile Átha Cliath, atá cónaí uirthi faoi láthair.

Rinne Margaret Corcoran, a rugadh i mBaile Átha Cliath, staidéar ar an Mínealaín sa Choláiste Náisiúnta Ealaíne is Deartha agus i Scoil Ealaíon Chelsea i Londain. Go minic bíonn a saothar lán le mionsonraí agus dathanna éagsúla, agus tá fianaise ar na rudaí éagsúla a bhfuil spéis aici iontu, lena n-áirítear an stair shóisialta agus stair na healaíne agus coilíneachas, iarchoilíneachas agus miotaseolaíocht, le fáil ina saothar. Glacann sí le raon leathan foinsí mar ábhar spreagtha, lena n-áirítear teoiricí ealaíne agus feimineacha, agus stair na smaointeoireachta polaitiúla. Tá a saothar taispeánta mar chuid de shéonna aonair agus grúpa in Éirinn agus thar lear, agus le feiceáil i roinnt bailiúchán poiblí mór le rá, cosúil le bailiúcháin Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí agus na Comhairle Ealaíon in Éirinn.

Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Caroline Campbell, Stiúrthóir Ghailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann, “Cúis áthais dom an phortráid seo de Marian Keyes a chur ar taispeáint anseo inniu. Is breá le neart daoine in Éirinn, agus thar lear, leabhair Marian. Cúis áthais dúinn go bhfuil portráid di ar taispeáint i nGailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann. Cuireadh tús lenár mbailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí sa bhliain 1875. Táimid ag cur leis an mbailiúchán go rialta trí phortráidí a choimisiúnú de phearsana mór le rá ó shaol comhaimseartha na hÉireann agus is foinse áthais agus iontais dár gcuairteoirí Éireannacha agus idirnáisiúnta é an bailiúchán seo. Táimid cinnte go mbeidh spéis á léiriú ag go leor daoine, idir óg agus aosta, sa saothar nua seo leis an ealaíontóir Éireanach, Margaret Corcoran.”

Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an údar Marian Keyes, “Cúis ionaidh agus onóir mhór dom ba ea an cuireadh a fháil ó Ghailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann teacht chun suí do phortráid a bheadh le cur san áireamh sa bhailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí. Cuireadh mé féin agus Margaret Corcoran in aithne dá chéile agus réitíomar go breá lena chéile ón tús: tá sí an-chineálta agus is go deas réidh a dhéanann sé a cuid oibre. Táimid beagnach ar comhaois freisin. Agus is aoibhinn liom a saothar, tá sé beagáinín spraíúil agus tá an-chineáltas á léiriú ann. 

Bhí sí lánsásta a tuairimí maidir leis an bportráid a phlé liom. Ón tús, áfach, thuig mé nár cheart dom aon iarracht a dhéanamh cur isteach ar a modh oibre: is ealaíontóir í agus tuigim é sin. A fís féin a bhí le tabhairt chun beochta aici, a tuiscint féin ar an méid a theastaigh uaithi a chruthú, agus ní raibh sé de cheart agamsa iarracht ar bith a dhéanamh cur isteach ar a cur chuige. Dá bharr sin, rinne mé iarracht mórchúis phearsanta a chur as an áireamh. Ní léargas é an phortráid ar mo léamh féin orm féin, is léargas atá ann ar léamh Margaret Corcoran, an t-ealaíontóir, ormsa. Má bhí fonn orthu stíl Francis Bacon a leanúint, ní raibh mise chun stop a chur léi.

Ach bhí ionadh an domhain orm nuair a chonaic mé an phortráid chríochnaithe: Is breá liom an phortráid; na dathanna, na huigeachtaí, an giúmar, na mionsonraí ar fad. Níl mé in ann anailís a dhéanamh ar shaothair ealaíne ach sílim gur éirigh léi mé a thabhairt chun beochta. Tá an snáithe spraíúil a éiríonn léi a thabhairt chun beochta le feiceáil cinnte. Tá mé fíorshásta agus an-mhórtasach as an onóir álainn seo. Is mian liom buíochas ó chroí a ghabháil le gach duine a thacaigh leis an tionscadal seo.”

Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an ealaíontóir Margaret Corcoran, “Rinne mé an phortráid de Marian sa teach inar scríobh sí go leor dá cuid leabhar. Bhí na ballaí ina teach péinteáilte buí, ach is ionann an buí atá le feiceáil i mo phéintéireacht agus tagairt do ‘The Song Rehearsal’, saothar a phéinteáil Edgar Degas sa bhliain 1873. Nuair a smaoiním ar Marian smaoiním ar phailéad dathanna geala – i dtéamaí a pearsantachta agus a stíl agus décor féin. Ba é an aidhm a bhí agam ní hamháin portráid a phéinteáil ach íomhá a chruthú a thugadh an cineáltas a shamhlaíonn a léitheoirí, náisiúnta agus idirnáisiúnta, léi chun beochta. Sílim go raibh an t-ádh orm, fad is a bhí mé ag obair ar phortráid Marian, go raibh an taispeántas iontach - Lavinia Fontana - ar siúl i nGailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann ag an am céanna. Áis tagartha iontach dom ba ea saothar an ealaíontóra bhainninn Renaissance seo a bheith taobh liom - go háirithe sonraí na n-éadaí. Ba é ‘The Composition - A Portrait of Marian Keyes’ - an teideal a roghnaigh mé don saothar de bhrí gur laistigh de na ballaí sin a tharlaíonn an gníomh ealaíne. Tá an chuma ar an scéal go bhfuil tírdhreach samhlaíoch ag teacht amach as a cuid lámh - sin an ríocht ina maireann aon údar i rith an ghnímh scríbhneoireachta.  Mar phéintéir, bíonn mé féin páirteach sa ghníomh ealaíne fad is a bhíonn a portráid á cruthú agam. Bealach ba ea an cúlra agus na codanna dá héadach chun deis cainte a thabhairt do mo stíl phearsanta oibre féin ar bhealach fileata tríd an bportráid.”

Tá ceiliúradh á dhéanamh ar na pearsana is cáiliúla i stair na hÉireann sa bhailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí i nGailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann. Tá pearsana sa bhailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí a bhfuil éachtaí curtha i gcrích acu i réimsí go leor, lena n-áirítear spórt, litríocht, craoltóireacht, amharclannaíocht agus ceartas sóisialta. Beidh rogha de shaothair ón mbailiúchán ar taispeáint i Seomra 23 i Sciathán Dargan i mí Aibreáin. Más mian leat tacú le Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann tabhair cuairt ar: www.nationalgallery.ie/join-and-give 


Teagmhálaí na Meán:

  • Kate O’Leary (Cumarsáid, Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann)

Nótaí do na hEagarthóirí:

  • Tá íomhánna den phortráid á nochtadh, glactha ag an ngrianghrafadóir Naoise Culhane, le fáil ach iarratas a dhéanamh. 
  • Tá an Dr Caroline Campbell ar fáil chun agallamh a dhéanamh.
  • Beidh an phortráid de Marian Keyes ar taispeáint i Seomra 23 (Gailearaí na bPortráidí) i nGailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann i mí Aibreáin.

Eolas faoin saothar:

Ealaíontóir: Margaret Corcoran (rugadh í sa bhliain 1963 i mBaile Átha Cliath)
Teideal: The Composition – A Portrait of Marian Keyes     
Dáta: 2023
Meán: Ola uiscebhunach ar líon
Toisí: 198 × 139 cm (i bhfráma)
Coimisiúnaithe ag Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann mar chuid den bhailiúchán náisiúnta portráidí

Maidir le Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann: 

Is é Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann ceann de na nithe is díol spéise do thurasóirí is mó tóir in Éirinn agus is ann atá bailiúchán an náisiúin de shaothair ealaíne Eorpacha agus Éireannacha ón mbliain 1300 go dtí an lá atá inniu ann, mar aon le Leabharlann agus Cartlann shuntasach. Tá saorchead isteach chuig an mbailiúchán ag gach duine chun taitneamh a bhaint as, a bheith ag foghlaim agus a machnamh a dhéanamh.

2024 ag Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann:

In 2024, beidh comóradh á dhéanamh ar 160 bliain ó osclaíodh Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann. Osclaíodh an Gailearaí ar an 30 Eanáir 1864. Chomh maith leis sin, in 2024 beidh ceiliúradh á dhéanamh ar 170 bliain ó bunaíodh an Gailearaí, tríd an Acht um Dhánlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann (1854), ar an 10 Lúnasa 1854. Foilseoidh foireann an Ghailearaí plean straitéiseach nua don tréimhse idir 2024-28 ag tús 2024.

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