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France and Ireland in the Public Imagination

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Edited By Benjamin Keatinge and Mary Pierse

This engaging collection of essays considers the cultural complexities of the Franco-Irish relationship in song and story, image and cuisine, novels, paintings and poetry. It casts a fresh eye on public perceptions of the historic bonds between Ireland and France, revealing a rich variety of contact and influence. Controversy is not shirked, whether on the subject of Irish economic decline or reflecting on prominent, contentious personalities such as Ian Paisley and Michel Houellebecq. Contrasting ideas of the popular and the intellectual emerge in a study of Brendan Kennelly; recent Irish tribunals are analysed in the light of French cultural theory; and familiar renditions of Franco-Irish links are re-evaluated against the evidence of newspaper and journal accounts.
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.
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Attractive Marginality: Irish Painters in Brittany in the 1880s

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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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