Edited By Benjamin Keatinge and Mary Pierse
Drawing on the disciplines of history, art, economics and literature, and dipping into the good wines of France and Ireland, the book paints a fascinating picture of the relationship between the two countries over three dramatic centuries.
Attractive Marginality: Irish Painters in Brittany in the 1880s
Exhibitions of Breton-themed paintings by Irish artists sojourning in Brittany have taken place regularly over the last two decades, whether it is at the Pont-Aven Museum in 19991 or at the Crawford Gallery of Art in Cork in 2000.2 In September and October of 2010, Limerick’s Hunt Museum mounted an exhibition entitled ‘The French Connection (& The Rediscovery of Thomas Hovenden)’.3 It looks back on the influence of pleinairism and the contemporary taste for painting ordinary models, as well as reminding the viewer that towards the end of the nineteenth century, France attracted a considerable number of Irish (and international) artists whose works were very popular at the time.4 ‘The French Connection’ ← 59 | 60 → surveys the works of painters whose fascination for French subjects (in addition to strictly Breton ones) had much to do with the fact that the country’s status as Europe’s painterly destination enabled Irish visual artists to address issues of representation and to experiment with new forms. While academic painters in France reproduced scenes from mythology, ancient history or the Bible ad infinitum and exhibited them at the annual Paris Salons, outdoors or plein air painting asserted itself as a step towards reclaiming proximity with life and celebrating nature, landscapes and familiar subjects. Impressionism took this approach one step further, focusing on ‘impressions’ rather than on detailed realist representation – as of that the rising sun mirroring itself on the sea in Monet’s landmark 1874 painting, Impression, Soleil Levant.
The Hunt Exhibition takes...
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