Our wonderful exhibition Ireland and the English Lake Poets continues for just one more week in the Long Room of the Old Library (final day to visit is Tuesday 4 June 2019). In this blog post, curator Dr Brandon Yen explores Ireland’s role in late Georgian Britain’s political cartoons, two of which are featured in the exhibition. Continue reading “Ireland in Late Georgian Caricatures”
This post was written by Assumpta Guilfoyle and Louise Kavanagh, both in Collection Management, TCD Library.
On preparing an exhibition on banned books, we knew a certain amount about censorship in Ireland. After a bit more research on the topic it became clear that the banning system failed our now-renowned Irish writers, and denied the Irish public the right to read the very best of literature. The Censorship Board did not set out to ban so many books, but they ended up doing just that. We kept reminding ourselves that it was the 1920s, a Catholic country that was trying to revive its national identity, it was a complex time both at home and abroad. Benedict Kiely, banned, said a prohibition was ‘the only laurel wreath that Ireland was offering to writers in that particular period’. Continue reading “Banned books in Trinity College”
A new exhibition featuring the English Lake Poets – William Wordsworth (1770–1850), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), and Robert Southey (1774–1843) – and their connections with Ireland has opened in the Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin and is on view throughout April and May 2019. Continue reading “Ireland and the English Lake Poets”
As a Heritage Council intern at Trinity College Library, I have the opportunity to work on several conservation projects supervised by conservators. Last month, I worked with Andrew Megaw on a book entitled Letters written by the late J. Swift, D.D. Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, and several of his friends. From the year 1703 to 1740. Published from the originals; with Notes explanatory and historical, by John Hawkesworth, L.L.D. In three volumes. A new edition. Volume I. London, 1766, shelfmark OLS L-11-584. Continue reading “A Swift repair”
The Irish sculptor Oliver Sheppard’s Sleeping Nymph (1918) has been on display in the Long Room since September, as part of the exhibition ‘Writing Art in Ireland, 1890–1930’. Drawn from Trinity College Dublin’s own art collections, Sheppard’s small marble relief is something of a sculpture within a sculpture. The main subject is a female nude lying sleeping. But carved in the right-hand corner is a barely discernible cherub or infant. Like the sculptor’s Roisin Dubh memorial to the poet James Clarence Mangan in Stephen’s Green, a smaller figure incorporated into the piece can be read as some form of ambiguous symbol or allegory relating to the primary subject.
Such suggestive works not only sometimes drew on literary sources but also provoked several notable literary responses. Sheppard’s early statuette Oisin and Niamh (1895) was inspired by W.B. Yeats’s The Wanderings of Oisin (1889), a fact that greatly pleased the poet. His later bronze statue The Death of Cuchulain – itself drawn from Lady Gregory’s portrayal of the hero in Cuchulainn of Muirthelmne (1902) – in turn became the subject of several poems by Yeats, following its erection in the General Post Office in 1935 to commemorate the Easter Rising. Less reverentially, Samuel Beckett’s novel Murphy (1938) describes how a character was moved to seize ‘the dying hero by the thighs’ and ‘dash his head against his buttocks, such as they are’.
Presented alongside Sleeping Nymph in the exhibition is a quixotic response to Sheppard’s work by Patrick Pearse, printed in the Gaelic League newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis (The Sword of Light) in 1906. The revolutionary, sacrificial message of Pearse’s appraisal seems clear. Of one statuette of a mother and child, he asserts: ‘his heart will not falter, he will fight the fight – win it, maybe, or failing gloriously, go serenely to his death. And the Woman of Destiny will wait and watch on.’ As such visual artworks enter into language, their meanings become interpreted and contested. Indeed during the lead up to last year’s centenary commemorations a 1916 Relatives Association urged Dublin City Council to rename the The Spire monument on O’Connell Street An Claidheamh Soluis. Like the symbolist sculpture of Oliver Sheppard, even the austerely abstract Spire sitting opposite the G.P.O. will have its significance written and rewritten.
Jack Quin is a Research Assistant in the School of English, working on the Irish Research Council-funded project ‘W.B. Yeats and the Writing of Art’.
This poster for Thomas Bodkin’s book Hugh Lane and his pictures (1932) is included in the exhibition ‘Writing Art in Ireland, 1890–1930’, currently on display in the Long Room. The advert reproduces William Orpen’s Homage to Manet (1909), a group portrait of the novelist George Moore reading from his pamphlet Reminiscences of the Impressionist Painters (1906) to an audience in London made up of the collector Hugh Lane, the painters Philip Wilson Steer, Walter Sickert and Henry Tonks, and D.S. MacColl, the Keeper of the Tate Gallery. Above them hangs Édouard Manet’s painting of another impressionist painter Eva Gonzales. Continue reading “‘a pin in the very quickest part of my body’”
Following on from our blog post on 29th September about the new ‘Writing Art in Ireland’ exhibition which is on display in the Long Room of the Old Library, we are delighted to announce that the online version of this exhibition is now available to be viewed here.
A new exhibition has opened in the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin. ‘Writing Art in Ireland, c.1890–1930’ explores the ways in which the visual arts were written about during a period that saw a surge in cultural activity take place against a backdrop of tumultuous constitutional change. From Margaret Stokes’s emphasis on the aesthetic value of medieval Irish artefacts in Early Christian art in Ireland (1887) through to Mainie Jellett’s defence of abstract painting in the magazine Motley in 1932, the exhibition also serves as a celebration of the wealth of material relating to the visual arts held in the Library.
The texts and images displayed highlight how commentators looked to the achievements of the past as well as to continental innovations in debating how best to forge a distinctly modern national artistic identity. Also outlined are the links between the visual arts and the emerging Irish state, as vigorous discussion took place around the role art should play in the economy, in educational institutions, and in the Church.
The exhibition was prepared by Dr Tom Walker, with assistance from Jack Quin, from the School of English, TCD, as part of the Irish Research Council New Horizons research project ‘W.B. Yeats and The Writing of Art’. It will be on view in the Long Room until January 2017.
Now that this year’s tennis tournament at Wimbledon is well under way, we would like to draw attention to a recent purchase in the Library, a 17th-century book about King Charles I of England and his family. Entitled The true effigies of our most illustrious soveraigne Lord, King Charles Queene Mary, with the rest of the royall progenie, the small volume consists of eight etched portraits of Charles and his wife Henrietta Maria, along with portraits of their six children who had been born by the end of 1640, the last child Henrietta being born in 1644, after this work was printed. Each portrait is accompanied by an anonymous poem describing the subject of the facing image. Continue reading “Tennis: “The Game of Kings””