Last evening was our first lecture of the new Winter season in the 125th anniversary year of the Society! Tom Dunne, Emeritus Professor of History, University College Cork, spoke about Cork artist Daniel Maclise (1806-70) and his role as a shaper of English identity. This was a fascinating insight into, amongst others, Maclise’s history painting “The marriage of Strongbow and Aoife” – apparently the most visited painting at the National Gallery of Ireland. There are two versions of this subject by Maclise at the NGI – the watercolour/ gouache (NGI.6315) and oil painting (NGI.205). Tom’s lecture discussed the elements that the artist tended to insert into his paintings (such as groups and motifs) and to what extent these were historically accurate. The oil painting is currently undergoing restoration and this is revealing aspects of the composition hitherto unnoticed, which challenges previously held views of the painting.
Tom was fresh from the previous night’s opening of the latest exhibition at the NGI – Creating History: Stories of Ireland in Art, which looks well worth a visit. His commissioned paper about Daniel Maclise is published in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, edited by Brendan Rooney and with contributions by Tom as well as Ruth Kenny, Mary Jane Boland, Emily Mark-FitzGerald, Róisín Kennedy, Claire Crowley, Katy Milligan, and Roy F. Foster (available from Irish Academic Press and bookshops).
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