Looking past the apparent lack of a sustainable Irish display culture, this book demonstrates that there is a very full story to tell of the way Ireland displayed its art from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Ireland on Show analyzes the impact of the display of art as a significant political and cultural feature in the make-up of nineteenth-century Ireland - and in how Ireland was viewed beyond its own shores, in particular in Great Britain and the United States. Fintan Cullen directs much-needed critical attention and analysis to a subject that has been largely overlooked from an Irish perspective. This study moves beyond museums, to address the range of art institutions in Irish cities that displayed art, from the Royal Hibernian Academy, founded in the 1820s, to Hugh Lane's Municipal Art Gallery, opened in Dublin in 1908. Throughout, the book explores the battle between the display of a unionist ethos and a nationalist point of view, a constant that resurfaces over the period. By highlighting the tension between unionist and nationalist viewpoints, Cullen uses the display of art to investigate the complexities of Irish cultural life before the founding of the Free State.
Fintan Cullen is Professor of Art History at the University of Nottingham. Previous books include Conquering England. Ireland in Victorian London (with R.F. Foster, 2005) and The Irish Face. Redefining the Irish Portrait (2004).
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