Portraits of a Nation

8th April – 29th May 2016

Portraits of a Nation is a selection of portraits from the State Art Collection which is managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW). The exhibition features 82 portraits by 54 artists. There are historic and contemporary paintings, photographs, original prints, sculpture and drawings on display. The portraits are of figures from different spheres of Irish life – the arts, sport, science, and politics.

The included artworks span five centuries – from a School of Rembrandt portrait dating to the 1630s to portraits created in 2016, such as eight prints of women involved in the 1916 Rising by David Rooney from his original illustrations created for the 1916 Portraits and Lives book (published recently by the Royal Irish Academy).

The work of many well-known artists are included in the exhibition such as Seán O’Sullivan, Albert Power, Rita Duffy, Carolyn Mulholland, Thomas Ryan, Mick O’Dea, James Hanley, Margaret Corcoran and Louis le Brocquy, alongside works created by recent graduates, such as Shane Keisuke Berkery.

Portraits of a Nation brings together a diverse range of artistic styles and offers visitors the opportunity to explore the genre of portraiture. It is an exhibition where past and present intertwine: where visitors can imagine conversations taking place between the sitters and the artists, in different visual art media and across time.

The sitters in the portraits include historic figures from Irish public life such as Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Henry Grattan, Daniel O’Connell, James Stephens, Seán Mac Diarmada, President and Bean de Valera, and William and Patrick Pearse. There are also contemporary portraits of well-known literary figures, sports people, and some artists’ self-portraits.