“Exhibiting Art in Georgian Ireland” at Dublin’s splendid Central Assembly House, an exhibition and a walking tour this week!

above  “the Abduction of Parolles’, Francis Wheatley (1747-1801). Private collection

“Exhibiting Art in Georgian Ireland” at Dublin’s splendid Central Assembly House,  an exhibition and a walking tour,  this week!

I’m delighted to be leading 4 tours for the Irish Georgian Society (IGS) over the next 3 or 4  weeks.

Two of these events are architectural and local history walks, one features the storied Camden- Aungier Street axis,  while the another is an architectural appreciation of Grafton Street.
These two walks run Wednesday 11th July then Sunday 22nd of July, respectively.
There are a few places remaining on each.
Tickets can as always for our annual IGS programme, be found on the Events pages of the IGS website.

But it’s to our other project for the Irish Georgian Society I’d mostly like to draw your attention to,  our new fine art tour, with a unique twist, debuting this week, on Wednesday evening, 27th June at 6PM.

This is a brand new, entirely unique walk,  designed to explore the new art exhibition, currently running at Dublin’s splendid Central Assembly House, “Exhibiting Art in Georgian Ireland”.    But as it’s directly based on the exhibition, this walk has the lifespan of a butterfly.   It will run twice only, this week on on Wed 27  June (at 6PM)
then finally,  once more,
on Saturday 14 July (at 12 noon)

The background to the walk is the Society of Artists, formed in the mid-1700s.
Within eighteen months of their formation, the Society had fund-raised for and had constructed the splendid space that today we call the Central Assembly House, on Dublin’s South William St. (Seen below, in James Malton’s famous image, to the right of Lord Powerscourt’s townhouse)

Although the Society themselves were to designed to have a short but glorious life, lasting barely 15 years,  they had nevertheless created the first purpose-built space for the public display of art in Britain or Ireland, indeed very probably the first such space in Europe.

Thereafter, from 1765-1780 they held their annual shows in the majestic Octagon Room, the great toplit gallery space within the Central Assembly House.   Nearly all the greatest Irish artists of the age, painters like Thomas Roberts and William Ashford, as well as artists like Francis Wheatley from abroad, exhibited there.
Their artworks were displayed in the 18th century, Salon-style, with works much closer than today, hung almost edge-to-edge, and stacked 3 or 4 rows high,  from as low as knee-height to up 18 feet above eye-level.

Two hundred and fifty years later, to celebrate the ground breaking legacy of the Society of the Artists, and the IGS’ restoration of the Artists’ unique Octagon Room,  it was resolved to create, or recreate, an exhibition of works by the Society of Artists exhibitors.

The curators of the current show, in a painstaking process of both research and of planning lasting many years, tracked down, borrowed and gathered together almost 100 of the artists’ works.   That ambition has now been realized.  These works are now exhibited, for just over a month,  in the distinctive, Georgian salon-style “hang” in the same Octagon Room where many of them were first exposed to the public’s gaze.     Now as then, it is a sight to behold, giving an extraordinary glimpse into the world of Eighteenth century Dublin, the world of its its powerful and wealthy, its politics, cultural life, its culture and economics..

above:  ‘A Meeting of the Volunteers on College Green’, Francis Wheatley. National Gallery of Ireland

The exhibition runs at the City Assembly House, in normal opening hours,  up until the 29th of July.    Thanks to the generosity of various public bodies and private individuals, as well as scores of people who gave their time and expertise for nothing, the exhibition is free.
For anybody with an interest in Georgian Dublin, or the history of the fines arts in Ireland,  it is unmissable.

This is where Dublin Decoded came in lat in the day but very honoured to be invited to then party.   We were asked by the Irish Georgian Society and others to create a complimentary walk for the exhibition.    Our mission,  the challenge we thus faced, was to add value, and historical context to the wonderful exhibition in the Octagon Room, through the medium of a walking tour

In the first hour of this tour,  we’ll explore the local area around the City Assembly House (CAH) looking at the locations of some of the artists’ homes & studios, from Grafton Street to Eustace Street, from College Green to South William Street itself.
Then we’ll return to within the CAH,  to visit the Octagon Room exhibition,  and here we shall draw some of the threads of our earlier street-level discussion together, discussing  the artworks themselves, and exploring notions of theme and subject matter, changing patterns in patronage and in 18th century painting.

We would love some of our Dublin Decoded readers and our regular guests to join us on one of these walks, and by doing so, both get closer to this unique exhibition and help support the vital work of the Irish Georgian Society by the purchase of your ticket, which is priced  €20.25 for guests (€16 for existing IGS members)

The Octagon Room promises to be quiet for our visit, making this a particularly lovely, highly convivial tour.     You can find tickets for the two separate dates via these links,
The tour runs just twice as mentioned above,  Wed 27  June (at 6PM)
then finally
one second and last time Saturday 14 July (at 12 noon)

We look forward to seeing you some of you there.

Please note:  all four walks mentioned in this newsletter are not Dublin Decoded walks, they are  IGS walks that I’m leading,  but not administrating.    Any ticket inquiries or other administrative inquiries should therefore please be directed to the IGS offices.  Many thanks.

top image:  ‘The Abduction of Parolles’, Francis Wheatley (1747-1801). Private collection
below: The Sheet of Water at Carton, County Kildare’,Thomas Roberts (1748-77). Private collection

above:   ‘A Meeting of the Volunteers on College Green’, Francis Wheatley. National Gallery of Ireland


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