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.
'Ireland on Show puts the image back into the imagined community of the nation… Fintan Cullen's study is of considerable social and cultural relevance and breaks new ground not only in tracking the circulation and exhibition practices of Irish visual culture leading up to the Revival but also in its nuanced readings of pictures.' Luke Gibbons, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland
'… detailed, subtle and illuminating study…' The Irish Times
'This energetic and original book studies ’the display of and access to art in Ireland in the long nineteenth century’… Elegantly produced… it is distinguished by rich and illuminating illustrations, a fine example of the combined impact of text and image. One may hope that the author will develop this fertile theme.' The Burlington Magazine
'This latest of Fintan Cullen’s insightful works on the visual history or Ireland is a fascinating study of what was displayed, and how it was displayed, by various institutions from the establishment of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1823 to the controversial Hugh Lane bequest of 1908. …it is generously illustrated with 24 colour plates of outstanding quality and over 50 black-and-white illustrations… buy this book.' History Ireland
'Ireland on Show is clearly written, its arguments well-laid out in five separate essays… It should find its place […] in every art history and cultural studies department.' Irish Historical Studies
'… a stimulating and informative read, well supported by fifty-seven black and white illustrations and twenty-four colour plates, all of good quality…' Irish Studies Review
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Art institutions in Ireland; Union and display in Ireland; Displaying distress; Display and integration: Ireland in America; The Lane bequest: displaying the modern; Afterword; Bibliography; Index.