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Saturday 3 December 2016

The day we lost our sovereignty

Bank to fund restoration of famous painting

Shane Hickey

Published 19/11/2010 | 05:00

'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife' by Daniel Maclise, housed at the National Gallery of Ireland, depicts our loss of sovereignty to the Norman conqueror of Ireland
'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife' by Daniel Maclise, housed at the National Gallery of Ireland, depicts our loss of sovereignty to the Norman conqueror of Ireland

IT'S a little early to expect artistic works on Ireland's latest loss of sovereignty, but a famous depiction of an earlier takeover is to be dusted down and restored.

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And, ironically, it is a bank that will pay for the costly restoration work -- although not an Irish one.

Until a few weeks ago, the magnificent 'The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife' 17ft by 10ft canvas made an imposing impression on visitors to the National Gallery of Ireland.

However, the 150-year-old painting by Daniel Maclise has started to show signs of age and was in need of a two-year refurbishment operation.

Conservation

Into the breach has stepped Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The investment bank announced yesterday that it had selected the painting as one of 26 which will get funding from a conservation fund it operates.

The painting shows the arranged marriage of the daughter of Leinster King Dermot MacMorrough to Richard 'Strongbow' de Clare, the Norman conqueror of Ireland.

In the foreground of the prodigious work is the heaped bodies of the defeated Irish soldiers as well as the harp with its broken strings. Meanwhile, the arrogant conqueror Strongbow crushes a Celtic cross with his foot.

Perhaps his place will be taken by a phalanx of bankers and politicians in an updated version -- 'The Marriage of Ireland and the IMF'? Or perhaps not.

A team of conservationists from the National Gallery will shortly start repairing the 19th century painting to its original glory.

Yesterday a spokesperson for the National Gallery said a "preliminary technical examination" would take place on the work.

"It dates from 1854 and there are areas of the painting which need to be supported and infilled," the spokesperson said.

"Quite a bit of conservation work is required on it, that is one of the reasons why we have selected this painting."

Work will also be carried out on the support structure of the painting.

The money comes after the canvas was nominated by the National Gallery. Another 25 paintings in galleries around the world are also getting money under the inaugural year of the fund.

However, last night neither the bank nor the gallery would reveal the cost of funding the renovation.

The painting was presented to the National Gallery of Ireland in 1879 by Sir Richard Wallace.

Irish Independent

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