On New Year’s Day, the annual exhibition of watercolours by Turner opened on-site and online at the National Gallery of Ireland.
‘Turner & Place: Landscapes in Light and Detail’ was cancelled in 2021 when the Gallery closed, due to Covid-19, following government advice. This year, a group of 19 rare Irish topographical drawings by Francis Place (1647-1728), who visited Ireland in 1698, joins the Gallery’s exquisite collection of 31 light-filled watercolours by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851).
2022 is the 50th anniversary of the Gallery’s acquisition of Place’s works – on display in full for the first time since 1972 – which includes an early view of Kildare (a depiction of Castledermot) as well as scenes from Drogheda, Kilkenny, Dublin and Waterford. A virtual exhibition is available online for visitors who would like to explore the show from home.
The Castledermot drawing, which dates to 1699, features the remains of the castle built in 1181 from which the town derives its name and an unfinished sketch of the round tower. As the description notes, ‘today no vestiges of the castle remain. In fact, Place’s sketch is known to be one of the only records of it.’
Niamh MacNally, curator of the exhibition, commented: “The jewel-like colours and experimental effects in Turner’s luminous watercolours are captivating, while the precise detailing in Place’s prospects, encourages close inspection, with the aim of identifying what has changed, or indeed stayed the same, over time. Turner’s atmospheric watercolours can envelop the viewer, whereas Place’s carefully observed landscape studies contribute significantly to the topographical history of the cities and towns he depicted in the final years of the seventeenth century.”
A programme of online learning events to complement the exhibition includes a free curator’s talk, an Irish language conversation event, a talk by Dr Helen Pierce, art historian on the work of Francis Place, and a series of online painting classes with artist Niall Naessens.
Find out more at www.nationalgallery.ie.