Last Thursday, the National Gallery of Ireland presented its historic collection displays following a period of extensive refurbishment and modernization of its historic wings on Merrion Square. Around 80% of the gallery’s exhibition space has been closed since 2011. The period of refurbishment also allowed for an extensive survey of the Gallery’s permanent collection. More than 450 works have undergone conservation and research.
The Dargan and Milltown Wings opened with an entirely new presentation of the permanent collection, featuring paintings by Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Ruisdael, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Goya, Monet, Gris and Picasso. The Gallery also displays its prestigious collection of Irish art with works by Daniel Maclise, Roderic O’Conor, John Lavery, William Orpen, Seán Keating, Gerard Dillon, Evie Hone, Norah McGuinness, Jack B. Yeats, Louis le Brocquy and William Scott.
The reopening of the refurbished wings coincided with the opening of the highly anticipated exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry. The exhibition comprises some 60 paintings from major public and private collections. Ten of Vermeer’s best paintings are included – nearly a third of Vermeer’s surviving works and the third highest number of works by the artist ever assembled in the world.
The exhibition brings together groups of paintings of domestic scenes – letter writing, in front of a mirror, musical scenes – and the obvious similarity of the compositions shows the interplay between artists – nonetheless Vermeer’s brilliance and originality brings new heights to the subjects and his work takes genre painting to a yet higher level.
Also see the review of the exhibition’s catalogue in The Art Newspaper here.