Art in Northern Ireland - Towards An Irish Art

Towards An Irish Art

Due to ongoing wars, occupation and poverty much of the Irish arts were restricted to music and literature. Yet beginning in the late 17th century, Irish painting began to take a foothold. These painters typically looked outside of Ireland for influence, training and clients who were wealthy enough to afford the purchase of art. For example, Walter Frederick Osborne developed his open air painting in France whereas Sir William Orpen studied in London.

In the second half of the 19th century a climate of cultural resurgence and nationalist ideals contributed to the development of an Irish style. A revived interest in the Irish language and Celtic history prompted a revival in the Irish visual arts as well. Belfast born Sir John Lavery may be the most internationally-known painter of this generation. He trained in Glasgow and France, but unlike Orpen, maintained close ties to his native land. In 1928 he was commissioned to paint the symbol of √Čire which would be used as the central image on the bank note of the new Irish Free State. Other paintings embodied the call for independence, such as Beatrice Elvery's √Čire of 1907 which depicts the history of Irish Catholicism with the still-nascent Irish Republic.

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