Gallery takes stock with a masterclass in world art
WHEN the National Gallery has made headlines over the past decade it was generally because big money had been paid for a piece: €400,000 for an Orpen last year, for example, or €900,000 for a Van Gogh in 2007.
But not everything in a new exhibition of 100 paintings, prints and drawings that showcases a decade of acquisitions cost a pretty penny.
Indeed, the curators spend more time gently rejecting or dismissing various works brought to their attention than they do clearing a wall space for an installation.
"We get works in every way you can imagine," Fionnuala Croke, head of collections at the National Gallery, said yesterday, as a new exhibition, Taking Stock: Acquisitions 2000-2010, gets set to open in the mid-March.
"We have a team of curators that keep an eye on the market, what's with private dealers, what's coming up for auction, and they may decide to bid.
"And, thankfully, we still get offers of beautiful gifts. We got a lovely work by (painter) Aloysius O'Kelly last year from a retired lady in England who had to move out of the house and she'd love us to have it.
"But what is offered is not always something that is going to be appropriate for the collection, and obviously we have to make decisions.
"I suppose you could probably say 10 to 20pc of works that are put on our radar, as it were, would be something we are really interested in. People will write in and offer you their own paintings that they've painted themselves, for example. That's a bit of a long shot."
Contemporary self-portraits are absent in the exhibition which opens on March 13 and will run until July 25 .
Instead, it features additions to the gallery's collection by notable European masters such as Renoir, Bonnard and Guercino, as well as a range of works by the biggest names in contemporary Irish art including John Lavery, Jack B Yeats, Louis le Brocquy and William Scott.
'Umpferstedt III', a striking composition by Lyonel Feininger which the gallery bought for more than €1m in 2008, will be on view for the first time. Lady Clementine Beit -- who presented a Turner watercolour to the gallery in 2000 -- will continue to be pivotal to the gallery's development.