Day Nine, cont’d: National Gallery of Ireland
After two rounds on the green buses in the morning, we hit the streets and spent a couple of hours at the Archaeology museum (where we also had lunch, incidentally, and for the record I found Dublin’s museum cafes really outstanding). On our way back to Grand Canal street, we passed the National Library – a tempting stop, but we decided to save it for another time.
Merrion Street in the wee hours. If you can find your way around Merrion Square, you can get anywhere in Dublin. The Georgian streets are wide and usually lined with art vendors (and sometimes musicians) and the brilliant doorways of elegant old buildings.
However my friend couldn’t resist a quick look into the National Gallery on the corner of Clare Street. The last time she dropped by, the selection was scarce as the museum underwent renovation. But once again, it turned out to be a brilliant impromptu call. We ended up spending much longer there than we could have anticipated, thanks to an absolutely stunning collection of some of the finest art around. Highlights? Too many to name, of course. But here is a sneak peek:
Goya, “Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate” (c1805) – one of the most beautiful Goya portraits I have seen. Don’t you just love the sunny contrast of the yellow against the black Spanish lace? His approach to this actress’s portrait is delicate, deeply genuine, and almost admiring – far different from the sarcastic and slapdash attitude with which he portrayed royalty.
This portrait is one of the most recent Goya’s to be exhibited publicly, because it has been in private collection for most of its life.
Velazquez, “Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus” (c.1617) – the earliest known painting by Velazquez. It’s really more a genre piece than a portrait, but a premonition of the sensitive portrayal of the lower social ranks, as seen in his famous later works.
Henry Raeburn, “Portrait of Sir John and Lady Clerk of Penicuik” (1791) – Raeburn was a Scottish painter, a rough contemporary of Gainsborough and Reynolds. I loved this portrait for its gentle glowing sunlight and the touching affection between the husband and wife that this painting portrays so tangibly. Though childless, the Clerks were known as a happy couple and were much-loved in their community.
Finally, a painting I didn’t have the chance to see, but would be remiss to omit now that it’s officially recognized as “Ireland’s National Painting” – Frederic William Burton’s “The Meeting on the Turret Stairs” (1864).
This incredibly romantic painting is based on a tragic Danish legend, and hardly needs any commentary from me. But the info below gives a great look into the painting’s history.
All art images courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland
Day Nine isn’t over
Nope, not yet. We headed back to the hotel at last (with no mishaps in direction – I found Dublin surprisingly easy to navigate) but there was still more to see, and more mileage to cover, before the day was out.