Saturday, June 20, 2015

National Gallery of Ireland

Laura loved this gallery.  I did too.  It’s small. I’ve just been to the L’Hermitage where there are rooms of the Impressionists. Here there are a few. Indeed the joy of this gallery is that there’s representative art through the ages with a smattering of the masters.  I enjoyed to the Irish artists whose work is obviously competitive as seen next to the greats. Unfortunately I’d not heard of them before this.
There was a gallery of Scully, a famous modern Irish artist. I’m not much a fan of modern art.  I don’t like rap either.  But then my father loved Johnny Cash and loathed Bob Dylan.
We walked through Trinity College to find it,  to the southeast at Clare and Lincoln.  It’s a modern building. I like modern buildings and this is one of the finest. From the attractive minimalist exterior to the wide spaces of the building interior.   The cafe was pleasant and obviously there’s much art going on so this ’space’ is well conceived.  Laura and I loved the book and gift gallery. Were I not travelling and having to stay light I’d have bought a half dozen books about Irish History and Culture.  Some were hilariously frank and bold. Not the sort of thing one finds in the standard travel journals.

Part of the joy of visiting art galleries is the measured pace and peaceful contemplation.  Paollo Ucella’s Virgin and Child is an extraordinary work. First thought is that the face of Jesus is a caricature. It’s a cartoon like expression.  I mean, we know that each race paint’s the Lord in it’s image but this Jesus looks likely to be a rich banker rather than a communist (small ‘c’) radical.   The Christ child is characterized in the ‘description’ as ‘lively’.  He’s certainly that.  But the mother looks like she’s still wondering how she got pregnant.  Now I have no idea why this particular painting caught my attention today.  There were several other paintings on the wall that I merely glanced over but when I saw this face of Jesus, well, I did a double take.  It would be easier to imagine this child as a baby picture of a mafiosa lord than our Lord.

By contrast, the Titian Ecce Homo (1557 to 60) is an extraordinary masterpiece of the foremost Venetian painter of his time.  I found myself touched by this, meditative in suffering, moved like the artist had got within a moment of the birth of God in man and the experience of life on earth.
Caravaggio’s Taking of Jesus (1602) with the kiss of Judas is simply epic.  We have photography today and iPhone’s catch police brutality in the act on video.It’s spread the glove over on instagram and Facebook.  Inequities of all time occurred at a time when only the spoken word could spread the news.  The Book of Kells was the recording of those days and a fifteen hundred years later the essence of a moment is being painted and becomes a masterpiece.
Henry Raeburn’s Sir John and Lady Clerk of Pennicuik, 1791 leaped out at me from the wall. It’s as if the picture were a photograph taken of a couple living today dressed in period clothing. It’s that real. It’s the most uncanny portrait.
Thomas Gainsborough, The Cottage Girl, 1785 was a favourite of Laura’s, probably as much because of the dog. We do miss Gilbert.
Goya’s Dona Antonnia Zarate portrait (1805) truly caught my attention.  She’s such a beautiful clearly spanish woman. I might meet her coming out of the opera or ballet today.  Goya makes me want to know her more.
I especially loved the Monet, Argenteuil Basin with a single sailboat 1874.  Monet fitted out a sailboat as a floating studio.  As a sailor who has lived aboard I loved learning this about an impressionist painter I’ve so long enjoyed.

Now we’re a block away sitting outside at the Coffeeangel enjoying chai latte’s in the sun.  People watching is the best in Dublin.  Possibly because of the density of young people and the distinctive character of the older folk. There’s also so many tourists and they’re a fun lot to look at, especially their sensible shoes. After yesterday’s marathon of touristing I bought some ibuprofen at the chemist this morning.  It was with great effort I got out of bed this morning. The shower was a godsend.

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