Sculptures of Friends: Irish & Dublin Greats.

Portrait heads, in plaster, terracotta and bronze, of playwright Brian Friel, publican, patron and writer John Ryan,

IMG_6561 IMG_6562

IMG_6559 IMG_6558

writer Anthony Cronin, artist Charlie Cullen,

and, below, the actor and great Becket interrupter Barry McGovern.


Just some of the terrific works by artist and sculptor Tom Haran, now on show in the lovely Octagon Room, at the Irish Georgian Society, 58 South William Street.

Reception is from 6-9 this evening, all are welcome. So pop in, or else visit and see it over the next 14 days. The exhibition runs until 4th April.  Terrific work, of fascinating people, many of them old friends or associates of the artist.  The works, in their blunt, honest realism, put me in mind of old Roman tradition of portrait busts.   That may have been what the artist had in mind with the title for the exhibition, Friends, Writers, a Countryman.    In any case, not to be missed.

Below; Arran Henderson speaking with the artist and sculptor Tom Haran, just prior to the opening of his show this evening.


North Georgian Dublin: Historic Walking Tour, 2pm Sunday 22 March.

A special one-off tour from Dublin Decoded.  A sociable and fascinating 2.2 hour walking tour, revealing some of the extraordinary 18th century heritage of Dublin’s North Georgian Quarter.  From 2pm – 4.10pm pm approx.  On Sunday 22 March.  This tour will also link (as an optional extra) with a super concert (starting 4.30) in an historic interior in Mountjoy Square.  All details below.


from Parnell/Rutland Square to Mountjoy Square and around, a Historic & Architectural Walking Tour with Arran Henderson of Dublin Decoded.  An exploration of the extraordinary heritage and social history of the area.  Linking afterwards with the lovely concert, by AtTheDrawingRooms, presenting the Elva McGowan ensemble, at a historic interior at Mountjoy Square. 

Mountjoy Square

Please note, There are 2 options, walk only, concert only and walk + concert combined ticket.  Link just below is a walk-tour only ticket, for €20. Purchase ticket via EventBrite.   Meet 1.55pm Sunday outside the Ambassador Theatre, facing down O’Connell Street and the back of the Parnell monument.   Talk/walk commences 2 sharp.  Please bring print-out of your ticket, just prior to 1.55pm.  Link to walk-only ticket Here.

 To purchase walk + concert combined ticket, for special combined price of €30,  please go to AtTheDrawingRooms presents page on EventBrite on this link, and press option-3: Walk + Concert combined ticket.  Concert-only tickets also available that page. (option 1)

whatever you choose it promises to be a special afternoon and evening.  We look forward to seeing you there.


Dublin Northside watercomour panorama

A Grand Tour tour, Rutland Square to Sail ships & across the River.

As you see on the below map by that Huguenot genius John Roque, Parnell (Rutland) Square in 1756 was hardly laid out with any buildings.

The famous Lying In Hospital (Rotunda) had been founded by Dr Bartholomew Moss was there (built by Richard Cassels) was there, and Cavendish Row/Street itself. and not much else.


To the North especially, all was empty, fields and trees, farms and orchards.   Charlemont House was yet to be built for James Caufield.  So too were the new entertainment spaces, the ultra-fashionable spaces owned by and used for fundraising for the Rotunda.   We today call the Ambassador and Gate Theatre buildings.  Only the main hospital was there in 1756, its beautiful formal gardens, some sort of pavilion by the looks of it, and an area called the The Orchestra” where presumably the musicians used to play.  No wonder Dublin was once called “the Naples of the North”


Immediately south of the Hospital, a very grand boulevard, Sackville Mall, the dream child of Luke Gardiner the elder is already laid out.  But it only runs for about half the length of modern day O’Connell’s st.    A much smaller street, Drogheda Street then ran the rest of the length, running southwards towards the Liffey, but even this didn’t connect properly with the Liffey, as you can see in this picture below.

Sackville Mall Drogheda St

Instead, at the bottom south end of Drogeda Street, a clutter of street junctions – South Lotts, and Great Abbey St, (which Roque has spelt “Abby”)  and various plots, shops, dwellings and warehouses, all block access to the river.

Nth Wall Slip & Bowling Green

Perhaps it doesn’t matter anyway, because modern-day O’Connells Bridge, or even Carlisle Bridge, (to give it its former name) also doesn’t exist yet.

Looking back up to the top left (NE) of this map, you’ll see Great Marlborough Street  (only “Great M..” visible here).      Tyrone House, (also Richard Cassels) isn’t built yet. Nor, obviously, is the Pro-Cathedral.   But the vital, all-important Bowling Green is there!

Marlborough Street today has to be one of the filthiest, saddest run down streets in the North Inner city, (in the face of serious competition)  It’s emblematic of the entire decline of the entire area, which neither the state nor the City government seem willing to do anything about.  Affairs are now at crisis stage, and despite time wasting endless reports and conferences, there’s little real hope on the horizon.  Until they are prepared to become radical and take the bull by the horns, finally confront private property rights, and introduce compulsory purchase orders, the neglect and destruction will continue and we will will loose precious buildings year by year.   The old cinema, then old Wax Museum on just off Rutland/Parnell Square,  o Granby Row, was ripped down in 2005.  Underneath the hideous concrete facade, it was actually a building by Frederick Darley,

Looking at this map always pleases and fascinates me though.  You have to admire Roque’s ships.  They are beautiful.   Look at the little Watch House too, on Ship Buildings (street) and between that lane and the river, look at the little lumber yards. These presumably are shipwrights yard for repair of those sailboats.  The timbers there are located between “Iron Key” and the North Wall Slip.

That’s “key”, not “quay” interestingly, although quay is of course the word Roques uses elsewhere along the river.  It is all most intriguing.  I wonder what the Iron Key was?  One is tempted to think Iron workers, making iron parts for the ships.

Going to the very bottom (S) of this frame, Lazars Hill is of course now Pearse St.  It was clearly Lazars Hill before it was Brunswick Street, before it was changed again to Pearse St.   In the old world of Templar and Hospitallers and early health care, and in medieval Christendom generally, the word Lazars and Lazarus (and St Stephen) generally referred to leprosy and its treatment.  The ancient hospital in this area however, was once known as St James. But that’s not so surprising either, when you think of it.  Back in medieval era, many of the  people making their way down to quays and the river here would have been traveling on pilgrimage, many of them to Santiago de Compestella.  To the shrine of St James.  These pilgrims often got sick along the way, and religious orders would look after them.  They also had their pilgrims passports stamped along the way.  The Dublin stamp was collected, a mile or so to the west of here.  At St James Gate.

Watch Hse, Iron Quay, Slip

changed utterly: Dublin’s Streets and Mrs Peg Leeson.


in the coloured 1798 map above, the tiny, modern-day lane-way known now as Balfe St, very near the busy central shopping thoroughfare of Grafton St. was previously “Pitt St”.   Can you see it above?  If you follow Anne St right to left across Grafton St you’ll spot it.

The name Pitt comes of course from the English Prime Minister and later earl of Chatham, William Pitt.  There were in fact two such men, father and son.  Both earls of the same title naturally but, more unusually, both were Prime Ministers.  This Pitt lane, and nearby Chatham St. were named after the later man: “Pitt the Younger”- as he was always known.  (Ed: After having wrote this on Friday night, a read of Michael Seeley’s super, and very first post on his excellent Wide Streets blog reminds me Pitt Younger was the PM who steered the Act of Union through.  Indeed, this act of tyranny is more or less the reason why the street was renamed!)
Pitt Street, although in a very fashionable quarter of Dublin, just off the Green, is and always was very small.  It was only created after Harry Street- in more recent decades home of the excellent McDaid’s pub, (a former haunt of mine) was extended and driven through to the newly- created Chatham St.  Chatham Street is in turn a widened and improved version of the former tiny “Gibbs Lane”.  This is how much Dublin was changing in the late 18th century.  All the time.  Partially because of the extraordinarily powerful Wide Streets Commission, yes.  But more generally, also as it was simply a time of strong growth and development and finally, of changing tastes in architecture and thoughts on city planning.

As you see below, the old, now-vanished Gibbs Lane, directly off Grafton Street is visible in the earlier, brilliant Roque (monochrome) map from just 42 years earlier, 1756.    Today a longer version of Gibbs Lane is Chatham Street.


And as for the small lane former known as Pitt?  Well, it hosted the premises of the most celebrated Madame of Georgian Dublin, Mrs Leeson, sometimes known as Peg Plunket.  Her famous bordello was more or less where the Westbury Hotel stands today.

Margaret Leeson, aka Peg Plunkett2,

Mrs Leeson was a brilliant, resourceful woman, a celebrated wit and uncommon spirit. Here she is, posing for a portrait, very much knowingly and tongue-in-cheek, as the huntress and virgin Roman Goddess Diana.

Margaret Leeson, aka Peg Plunkett,

I mean to write about her soon, in another context, although I cannot improve here upon this superb description, itself written almost in Regency-ese! It is from by Lilliput Press, introducing their modern, reprinted edition of Peg’s memoirs…

Mrs Margaret Leeson (1727-97), alias Peg Plunket, of Killough, Co. Westmeath, was the best-known brothel-keeper of eighteenth-century Dublin. As well as the rich and titled (a Bank of Ireland Governor and a Lord Lieutenant were among her clients), she accommodated lawyers, conmen, journalists, theatre-folk and petty villains. Her first establishment, run in partnership with friend and fellow-courtesan Sally Hayes, was in Drogheda Street, until vandalized by the Pinking-dindies. She then moved to Wood Street, before settling, most notoriously, in Pitt Street, on the site of the present Westbury Hotel.

She led a colourful, if rackety, existence as leader of Dublin’s demi-monde, accepting early in her career 500 guineas from Lord Avonmore to discontinue her brief marriage to his gormless son. She refused service to the Earl of Westmorland because he treated his second wife ‘shabbily’, and insulted the Prince Regent twice whilst visiting London. After thirty years she decided to reform but found her cache of IOUs valueless and ended up in a debtors’ prison, run by a former client, Captain Mathews. To raise cash she decided to publish these memoirs, documenting her life as a madam and the vicissitudes of her retirement. 

You can find a couple of Madame Leeson retorts and ripostes, on the excellent Women’s Museum of Ireland site.

As for the re-published memoirs of Peg herself, much like the original imprint, i fear the modern edition also may have sold out.  But who knows?   One can enquire.  In any event it’s always worth looking at the site of the excellent Lilliput Press.

For those with a taste for 18th century Dublin style, architecture, history, and even music, Dublin Decoded leads four tours on Georgian Dublin over the next three month , three of which have lovely music attached.  Educational tours, for Art History Leaving Cert are also still available, up to the Leaving Cert in late May.  (There’s a question on Georgian every year on the paper)   Detail of all that stuff, and an awful lot more,  can be found by having a dam good thorough root about the site, starting at the home page, and then clicking lots of other links and pages.  Or an easy alternative route to tour go-aheads, as always, is our monthly mailing list now.  First bulletin of 2015 goes out next 5 days.   So sign up, and join the demi-monde!   Adieu for now.

History walking tours, followed by music, poetry and wine.

Image2 Drawing Rooms                Photo credit Declan Hackett

Could there be anything nicer to do on a Sunday afternoon than a History walking tour, followed by wonderful concert of ultra- high quality music, performance, poetry,  with a sociable glass of wine after?   Well, what about if the concerts took place in some of the most beautiful historic interiors in Dublin?    Dublin Decoded is delighted to collaborate with the Drawing Rooms, concerts and recitals in Dublin’s historic spaces.  At least twice in the next couple of months we’ll have the walks below, followed by musical programmes, curated by architecture and music historian Aine Nic an Riogh of the Drawing Rooms.

Sunday afternoon March 22nd:   the Drawing Rooms presents the Elva MacGowan Ensemble, at 25 Mountjoy Sq.  From 16:30 to 18:00 (GMT)  To book tickets for concerts only * see this link.     Dublin Decoded are proud to run a special walk to link with this concert, North Georgian Splendour. Meet at the Parnell Monument top of O’Connell Street, staring at 2pm, walk concluding by 4pm, at least 30 minutes before the concert, to allow a rest. (We will finish just a short few minutes walk from the concert venue in Mountjoy Square).  The walk will look at the adjoining area, including an architectural appreciation of the Rotunda, Ambassador and Gate Theatres, Parnell Square, on to the Black Church and adjoining area, Denmark Street, Belvedere College and a visit and exploration of an historic 18th century interior, on either North Great Georges St, or on Mountjoy Square itself.  The fee for a walk-only ticket is our normal €20, including booking fee) but Dublin Decoded is offering a 25% reduction for people who book a walk plus concert joint ticket, at the combined price of €30.  For combined tickets please see this link, and then press the 3rd option “walk + concert”.

Then, on Sunday April 19th:  Dublin in the First World War, a history walk.

QUIZ 10  Dublin DEcoded Picture Quiz 10

Dublin Decoded collaboration with the Drawing Rooms takes place Sunday April 19th.     Meet 2pm at Campanile, middle of Front Square, Trinity College, for a special walk discussing Dublin in the First World War, especially this central-south area from Trinity college to Stephen’s Green and St Patrick’s Cathedral.  We’ll explore how the war was perceived, commemorated or denied, how it divided and polarized or united, and how it intersected with the dramatic events of Easter Week in 1916.   Tour finishes at South William Street, with a short 30 minute break, to continue and dovetail with a wonderful concert and performances there…

Aerial engraving

“Words and Music from the First World War”,  in the lovely Octagon Room at the Irish Georgian Society/ City Assembly Rooms, South William Street.  Starts 20 minutes after conclusion of our walking tour.   Please note you can book tour only €20 (inc booking fee) at this link:      But for joint walk + concert combined ticket at special total price €30, please look for the 3rd option after you press on this link.

a month later, on Sunday 31st May:  Dublin Decoded, walk of the North Georgian City, followed by a concert at Number 12 Henrietta Street

Nrth Georgian Watercolour

featuring the 18th century Rotunda Lying-In hospital, including Ambassador and Gate theatres; Parnell Sq (formerly Rutland Square) as well as Charlemont House; the King’s Inns and a history of Henrietta Street itself.  Walk commences 2pm.  Meet at the Parnell monument, top of O’Connell Street.  Finishes 4pm, to allow a quick 20 minute rest- break before the concert…     where…   @TheDrawingRoom with the Association of Irish Composers presents,  Anne-Marie O’Farrell – harpist and composer, in the spectacular Georgian interior of number 12 Henrietta Street.  Concert Sunday, 31 May 2015 from 16:30 to 18:00 (Irish summer time)    This wonderful concert is preceded by the Dublin Decoded walk of the North Georgian City, as above.    To purchase tickets for walk + concert at special combination price of €30, please look for the 3rd option “walk + concert”.  after you press here.

Image1 Drawing Rooms    Photo credit Declan Hackett

* Sunday March 22nd:  Elva MacGowan Ensemble Sunday afternoon, at 25 Mountjoy Sq.  We may have a walk to announce soon, to coincide with this lovely concert, walking tour would start around 2pm (two hours before concert)  If we do, it will take place in the Mountjoy Square area, will focus on that area, including notes on buildings, history of the street-scape and decor, and at least one rarely seen interior.   Tour will commence 2pm,  and there will be a special price for anyone presenting a concert ticket for the concert later that day.  Keep you eye on our website for details next week! We look forward to seeing you at the concerts and walks.    – Arran,  Dublin Decoded.


Georgian architecture for Schools, Leaving Cert Art-History.

We’re making our well-known Georgian East tour available to secondary schools for the first time, now adjusted for students sitting the Leaving Certificate this summer, and delivered with notes and a special worksheet.  Please share with Art history teachers (or History teachers) whose students might benefit. 

The tour. The Dublin Decoded Georgian architecture walk is a 2 hour approx. walking seminar, focused for Leaving Cert Art History groups.  Please note the tour runs from 2.15 (available most weekday afternoons by prior arrangement, and lasts for approx 2 hours or 2hrs, 15 mins.  ie: 2.15pm-4.30pm weekday afternoons  Fee is €8 per/student based on groups over 15.  All other details on tour and worksheets, and the full tour spec below.


By concentrating on relatively small group of key buildings, terms, ideas and architects from the Georgian era, (approximately 1720 to 1830) it helps understanding and bring the era, concepts and creative personnel to life. It is designed to give teachers and students an edge in forthcoming exams.

The walk and talk takes place in and around the College Green and Trinity College area. Architects and designers include Thomas Burgh, Edward Lovett Pearce, James Gandon, Richard Cassels and Hugh Darley, among others.

The tour features the origins and underlying principles of the Georgian style, as well as notes on materials, and a glossary of terms and ideas.  Interpretation and discussion of buildings is by Arran Henderson, an art historian and writer who conducts tours for the Irish Georgian Society and many other leading cultural organizations.

College Green Dublin Decoded


To assist teachers and classroom/exam performance, the tour concludes with two useful study sheets.   One is handout for students, a summary of notes on key Georgian Dublin buildings, both those featured on the tour and other important examples of the style to visit and review.  The other is a “refresher” test. This is given to teachers/ group leaders at the end of the tour, for follow-up work later back in the classroom.

Notes, fees, and how to book all available via this link.

Leaving Certificate Art History Teachers may also be interested in another excursion, discussing religious (and secular) symbolism in historic paintings at the National Gallery, from Italian Quttrocento and Renaissance to 17th century Dutch Art.  Please see here.

Reynolds Parody Sch of Athens

Answers to Italian Renassaince Artists Quiz…

Recently we posted a picture quiz on Italian Renaissance artists.  Press that link to have a go?  before you read the answer below!    Readers simply had to try to identify the artists, and/or their works, using the questions and hints below… Here are the answers!

First section. Proto- Renaissance.

Question #1 What’s the name of the author of this beautiful work, below?  and where did he hail from?

Ambrogio Lorenzetti Annunciation _1344 ! .

#1. This above is a work by Ambrogio Lorezetti, c1290-1348, fro  Sienna, in Tuscanny, central Italy.    It’s not hard to see below why he’s generally acknowledged as being the first in Italian Art to use true, mathematical linear perspective, something we usually associate with later artists like Paulo Ucello in the, (significantly later) quttrocentro in Florence.  Astonishingly, Lorenzetti was much earlier. He was a younger contemporary of Giotto, (c1267-1337), only dying 11 years after Giotto.

Q#2 This work below, (by the same artist as above) what does it depict? Who is kneeling before the Pope.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti The Oath_of_St_Louis_of_Toulouse_-_WGA13468

It’s a another, second work by work by the same Ambrogio Lorezetti,  this time showing St Benedict,  kneeling in front of the Pope.   The, very early use here of mathematical linear perspective is even more marked.

#3- A work by Giotto. Where would you find it?

Giotto Scrovegni Chapel Lamentation_(The_Mourning_of_Christ)_adj

A#3- In the Scronvegni or Arena Chapel, in Padua, an iconic and in its time, an immensely influential work, now often regarded as a s bridge from the medieval to the early Renaissance in Western Art.

Next section, Quattrocento

#4- This astonishing achievement was the first large dome constructed since antiquity. What is the building? and who was the architect?


A#4- The distinctive dome belongs of course to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence.  The legendary architect was Filipo Brunelleschi.  (1377-1446)  He was the first to construct a large dome since antiquity, since the time of the ancient Romans.

Q#5- Who is the sculptor? and who is the subject of, the saint, depicted in this work below?

St George_Donatello_Orsanmichele_n1

Answerr to #5:  – This is a work by Brunelleschi’s friend and contemporary, the Florentine sculptor Donatello (c1386-1466)  It represents St George, in one of the exterior niches in the Orsanmichele, which was the chapel, offices, grain-store and general home, of Florence’s powerful trade guilds.  All the guilds had to commission statutes of their different patron saints, and the statues are by some of the greatest sculptors of the age.  St George was, and still is, the patron of the Arte dei Corazzai,  the gild of armourers.  The originals of all the Orsanmichele sculptures (and there are others by for example Andrea Pisano, by Lozenzo Gibertti and by other Florentine greats)  have in fact now all been taken to different museums, like the Bargello and the Academia, to protect them from the elements.  But you’d hardly know the difference, the replacements  in the niches are such perfect replicas.

#6- Another, even more extraordinary work by the same sculptor, Donatello…    But who’s the subject? And in what city would you find this monumental masterpiece?

Donatello Gattamelata

Answer to #6- :   The amazing equestrian statue above is another work also by Donatello.  It depicts the mercenary general or “condottiere” Gattamelata.   It’s in Padua.   This, and the equally superb work depicting another condottiere, Bartolomeo Colleoni sculpted by Andrea Verrocchio in Venice, (picture below) are the greatest two equestrian statues to come out of the Renaissance.  Large-scale bronze casting, especially of complex shapes like these, is notoriously difficult.  So each work represents an amazing technical as well as artistic achievement. 


above: not part of our quiz, but another brilliant, huge equestrian statue: Bartolomeo Colleoni. by Andrea Verrocchio, Venice.


Question #7- And which early Italian Renaissance painter is responsible for this work, below?

Fra Angelico San Marco Altarpiece

Answer to #7- This lovely gracious Madonna and child Enthroned, is by Fra Angelico, (1395-1455)  the painter and Dominican friar.  He  painted as part of a whole series of works decorating San Marco in Florence, a complex of church and convent,  (the convent is today a museum, and so this work is still there in its original home).  It was commissioned and paid for by Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder, and completed sometime c1438-42.

Question #8  -what Florentine quattrocento genius painted this marvel of perspective below, still in situ at the church of Santa Maria Novella?


Answer to #8-  Anyone who’s ever arrived in Florence by train will have faced the church of Santa Maria Novella, as they stepped out of the lovely 1920s train station of the same name.  The station is directly opposite the church, and named after it.  The amazing fresco above is inside:  The Holy Trinity, by Massacio, a tragically short-lived but highly influential artist of the quattrocentro.

Question #9- okay, moving on, A little bit later now. There are even more famous work than this one, (work below) by this so-called “third generation” Florentine painter.   He painted some of the most instantly recognizable, most iconic images of the Renaissance. By the way that’s his self-portrait on the right, looking straight at you. What’s his name?

Botticelli_-Adoration_of the Magi (Zanobi_Altar)_-Uffizi

Answer to #9:-  This is an Adoration of the Magi, a famous work by Sandro Botticelli,  painter of even more iconic works Primavera (first image below) and Birth of Venus. (to right)



#10- Here below is a detail, from another work, by the same artist pictured above. But what iconic book of poetry was it designed to illustrate?

Botticelli Drawings for Dantes Devine Comedy c1490

Answer to #10:-   Well, you already know its another work by Sandro Botticelli.  And we’re sure you knew or correctly guessed, the famous book of poetry was Dante’s Inferno,  a work that inspired some of the greatest artists in history.  I’m a particular, and very long-term fan of the illustrations of 19th century French artist Gustave Doré.  Anyway, the work above is by Botticelli.  Look at those devils!   A truly nasty, vicious, vision of hell!

Question 11- This work (below) was started by one famous Florentine artist, famous both in his own right, but also for leading a studio that contained and trained some of the greatest names of the Renaissance. So two questions here: 11a- Who started this work? and 11b- Who finished it?


Answer 11  We asked you two questions here, firstly, who started this work?  The answer is Andrea del Verrochio, who sculpted that second, incredible Bronze horse we mentioned in the extra information to answer number.   Verrocchio also ran a studio that contained and trained some of the greatest names of the Renaissance.

We also asked you 11b- Who finished the painting above?  The answer to that is Verrocchio’s favored apprentice and sucesssor, Lorenzo de Credi   (1459-1537)

Question 12- we spoke above Andrea del Verrochio,  whose busy studio trained a whole stable of great artists. This work below was also a collaboration, between the same master, but a different apprentice. Who was this second apprentice, who reputedly painted the angels here below?


Answer to #12:  The two angel kneeling on the left, are reputedly, and famously, by a young Leonardo Da Vinci.  They almost certainly are by Leonardo, scholars agree.   But the story, I think first put about by Georgio Vasari, (who was full of these old canards) says that when the master saw the dazzling work done by his young apprentice, he threw down his brushes,  and swore he’d never paint again.   That, I think we can safely say, is apocryphal.

Section 3- High Renaissance.

question #13    Okay, pretty confident you either guessed the answer to the last question or more likely, already knew it.    So  not too worried about giving too much away with this one either.   Below is a mature work, an iconic work, by the “apprentice” involved above.  As you know it’s in a refectory, a dining room, in an old monastery or priory. But in what city?  This is question #13 by the way, – (an aptly numbered 13)

Last Supper Leo da Vinci_5

Answer 14:    The Last Supper, by Leonardo.  It’s in Milan.

#14- and this work, below, in Rome, is by his slightly younger, equally legendary contemporary?  Part of a huge, and immensely complex scheme, that took around seven years to complete. There’s a ahem, clue on the image but I decided not to cut it out. If you’re still here, this will be a breeze anyway. Artist and location?


It is of course a detail, one of the Sybyls, from Michelangelo huge series of frescoes on the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

#15- And two works below, by the third member of the traditional High Renaissance apex trio. Firstly, what is his name?

156px-Madonna of the Meadow Raphael

Answer to #15- The work above and below are of course both by Raphael.

But Question #16- and far more difficult, who was the female subject of this portrait, scion of a powerful dynasty who ruled Milan in Lombardy?

Caterina_SforzaLorenzo de Credi

This is Caterina Sforza.  A truly formidable woman.

Section 4- Venice.

Question #17-  We’ve glanced at the sons of Sienna, Florence and Rome. Let’s not forget the Venetians. This man who painted this beautiful, enigmatic Allegory below came from an entire family of famous Venetian painters, and his brother in law was even Andrea Mantegna. But what’s the name of the artist of this Allegory?

Giovanni Bellini Saccred Allogory

Answer #17:   Giovanni Bellini

Question #18 - We all know the patron saint of Venice is St Mark, (whose body the Venetians, not to put too fine a point on it,  basically stole from Constantinople! )    Here below is a moment from that famous theft, dignified by this dramatic work “Finding the body of Saint Mark”   But who’s the artist?

Finding of Body St Mark-Jacopo Tintoretto

Answer #18:   the artist was Tintoretto.

Question #19-  and our Penultimate question and artwork, here by the most famous Venetian painter of them all.  He was famous for his use of colour.  A certain type of red in women’s hair is even named after him.   He exerted a huge influence on later artists, notably Peter Paul Rubens.  Here he paints a woman with a mirror, perhaps echoing Jan Van Eyck’s Arnofini Wedding portrait, and also pre-figuring later painters, like Velazquez  (and indeed Ireland’s own genius Sir William Orpen). But who was this legendary Venetian artist?


Answer #19:   It is of course a work by Titian.

Last work: Baroque.

20- Final work. Last, but very definitely not least, this superb female artist of the 17th century, painting very powerfully in the style of Caravaggio.   Preconceptions and social conventions made it almost impossible for women to be painters in the Renaissance or Baroque era, but this woman’s father owned a studio and so she worked alongside him, becoming an accomplished artist in her own right. A thug working for the family studio raped her, but, although clearly marked by the experience, she recovered and prevailed, to become one of the greatest Italian painters of the 17th century.

So, last question- who is the brilliant artist, responsible for this work?


Answer #20:   This is Judith and Holofernes,  by the brilliant 17th century artist Artemesia Gentilesschi.  It depicts the Israelite, the beautiful widow Judith who saved her people by seducing, then decapitating, the besieging general Holofernes.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures, questions, and bits of hints and extra information. No need to leave your answers, but by all means leave a comment, it’s always great to hear from readers.

Arran Henderson Dublin Decoded at National Gallery of Iteland How to Read a Painting

For people in Dublin, or passing through Dublin, if you’d like to become a real Robert Langton, and do our Dublin Decoded famous “How to Read a Painting” symbol tour at the National Gallery of Ireland, (pictured above) then 2 things are advised.. 1-see the tour spec here. but more crucially 2- sign up for the newsletter, which will alert and advise you each time we run the tour, (usually once a month).

“How to Read a Painting” also bookable as a private event. See you there sometime

Until the next post, all the best!

Dedicated to Emmeline. who always matched, then surpassed her brother in art history. xx

Urban traveller. Night owl.


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